The Ups and Downs of ‘Divergent’

Divergent

It’s been a while since I first read Divergent (actually, I listened to it on audiobook, but you know what I mean.) With all the comparisons between Divergent and The Hunger Games, there’s no way I couldn’t pick it up, and now, I’ve been through the entire book series and the first movie. Last night, I was invited to a press screening of Divergent, so of course I was excited to see how the book (which I thought was amazing) translated to film. While I didn’t think the movie was perfect, I left the theater impressed, so I’m going to review the movie with a classic good/bad analysis.

GOOD

  • I mean, let’s just put it out there. The casting for the film was so well done. Shailene Woodley makes an excellent Tris, and there were definitely some moments during the film where she blew me away with her acting skills. Same can be said for Theo James, who played Four so well. Up until now, I had only approved of him because of his ridiculously good looks, but now, I can see that he was well suited to play the part. Admittedly, the most I’ve seen Kate Winslet act was when I saw Titanic, so her portrayal of evil Jeanine Matthews was different from what I’d seen, but she did it convincingly. As for the rest of the cast, well, there’s so much I can say that I don’t have room for, so I’m just going to say that the casting director deserves a pat on the back.
  • I thought the film did pretty well capturing the essence of the book. The thing we all worry about with adaptations is how they’re going to change things, and I didn’t sit in the theater nitpicking at changes that I noticed. That said, it HAS been a while since I first went through the book, so it’s not as if I have what happened fresh in my mind, but they kept enough in the movie that all the major plot points were there and everything I needed to understand the overall story of Divergent remained.

BAD

  • It really bugged me that they decided to mix in tracks from the soundtrack, mainly because it was so distracting. The songs might have fit with the scene at the time, but so many times I thought “Hey, that’s Ellie Goulding singing right now,” or something along those lines. This makes me thankful that The Hunger Games had a film score and a separate companion album with songs that only made the credits, if anything. But hearing popular artists singing in a dystopian world just felt too weird.
  • Due to time constraints, we didn’t really get to know the supporting characters that well as we got to in the book. For example, I found it hard to see a connection between Christina and Will in the movie, whereas in the book, it was pretty clear what was going on between the two. This really reduced the impact of a significant scene towards the end of the movie. On the note of supporting characters, it was pretty difficult to keep track of who everyone was. I kept waiting for a name to be used so I could easily identify everyone, but many times I kept thinking, “Wait, who is that again?”
  • Speaking of not being able to keep up, the entire first half of the film was pretty confusing with all the descriptions of the factions, even for someone who has read the book. I feel like many people who watch the movie without having pre-existing knowledge of what the factions are about will have a hard time setting everything straight and trying to remember certain details mentioned.

The runtime of the movie was almost 2 and a half hours, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it makes me think some people will lose interest due to confusion before it gets to the second half of the movie, which is the best part. I forgot a lot about the second half of Divergent’s story, so I was quite surprised with how they were able to pick things up with what happens.

So overall, the movie starts off slow and is kinda confusing, but then something clicks where everything starts to make sense and it’s just a wild roller coaster all the way to the end. The marketing for Divergent seems to be doing well, so I think a lot of people will end up seeing it, but I’m curious to see just how successful it will do at the box office after all the book readers have seen the film. I’m hoping it builds a wider fan base and captures a ton of non-readers also, as I enjoyed the film and can’t wait to see what the movies for Insurgent and Allegiant will be like.

Will you be seeing Divergent this weekend? Or have you already seen it and want to discuss? Let me know in the comments, or chat me up on Twitter!

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