Saturday, April 5, 2014

Divergent



Books to Movies is a feature where I review movies based off books! These reviews are for people who have read the book, so spoilers are definitely within.

Rated: PG-13





















Is it worth watching?

If you're looking for a fun pre-summer action flick, yes. If you're looking for a movie that is somewhat close to the book and is dystopian, yes. If you're looking for a deep-minded movie, no.

Is it clean?

Yes. There is no strong language and the violence is not graphic. There is a part during Tris' fear-scape where Four gets physical with her, but it doesn't go beyond him pushing her onto the bed and holding her hands down.

How is the cast?

Shailene Woodley as Tris Prior did a much better job than I was expecting. Physically, she looked nothing like how I imagined Tris. She's too glamorous and not compactly-built. Personality-wise, though, she surprised me. Ansel Elgort totally did not work for me as Caleb, Tris's brother. Just - no. The minor cast - Christina, Al, Will, Eric, et cetera - were all good. Minor cast usually is. Eric's jerkiness took a little longer to surface than in the book, but in the end I did hate him. Peter was fine, except they reduced his psychotic creepiness by - well, a lot. And I found that to be extremely disappointing. Kate Winslet was the perfect Jeanine. She was probably their best cast character. And now we come to Theo James as Four . . . . I know I'm about to be smacked by every Theo James fangirl out there, but this is my honest impression, so too bad! I could say that I actually liked the Divergent movie if it weren't for Theo James. He was not Four. He was the worst Four on Earth! He was too old, looked totally wrong, and came across as a jerk. Four isn't a jerk. I didn't like Four in the movie at all. I wanted to sob, they did him so horribly wrong.

Did the story stay close to the book?

Surprisingly, yes, for the most part. Some events were hurried along - like Tris finding out what Divergent meant or her visits with Caleb - but given the fact that the movie is already clocked in at a hearty 2 hours and 19 minutes, I can't list that as a complaint. It was the littler things they mostly changed - and usually it's the little things that bother me the most. But the movie stayed close to the spirit of the book, and that is always the most important thing for me.

Did they even get the little things right?

Peter's psychotic-ness is toned down considerably - they totally take out his stabbing another recruit's eye out simply because he was becoming competition. Uriah doesn't make an appearance at all (though apparently he'll be in the next two), and the paintball guns they use in capture-the-flag is replaced with darts that simulate gunshot pain. Honestly, I liked that better. Tris's test to see what faction she most belongs to is shortened considerably, and that was immensely disappointing to me. The cavern at Dauntless headquarters doesn't have a waterfall (!!), and when Tris sees her mother again, it's not on a visitation day. Tris's mother comes and secretly visits her at a supplies depot. When Tris gets her tattoos, she only gets the birds and not Dauntless and Abnegation symbols. The romance is also extremely toned down - and that isn't a complaint. Actually, it came as something of a surprise. However, they tone down the romance so much that when it finally does happen, it feels like it came out of nowhere. Finally, Tris's fear-scape and her fear of what her attraction to Four might mean. In the movie, it's very much indicated that the fear-scape Four tries to force himself on Tris (as I said earlier, this doesn't go anywhere).

But the ending is good, right?

This may be one of the biggest changes. In spirit, it's very similar to the book. But the three deaths are very rushed and Tris uses Jeanine to shut down the program instead of Four. In some ways, I liked that better. But it isn't a movie's job to rewrite a story, thank you very much.

So if I absolutely adore the book, will I like the movie?

I think you would be surprised at how un-angry you would be with the movie. Don't get me wrong - the book is far superior and I really wouldn't say that the movie is a faithful adaption. Their cast needs severe work. But other than Four, I found my complaints to be relatively minor, and if it hadn't been for Theo James, I could say that yeah, I enjoyed the movie for what it was, despite its changes. But why, why, oh why did they cast Theo James as Four?! (That's a rhetorical question. Clearly they cast him because they knew it would draw the fangirls in and that no fangirl would ever complain about him as Four because they like Theo James). If you absolutely adore the book - and are not especially attached to Theo James - your chances of enjoying the movie are higher than you would think. If you hate the book, chances are you aren't going to care about the movie at all - though I do suppose that that depends on why you hate the book. I know, my answers are ambiguous, and that's partially because I've heard such varied reactions from fans and non-fans alike. Some book fans actually liked Four better in the movie - and it wasn't because they like Theo James. Others didn't. And I fall in the latter category.

4 comments:

  1. I'm thinking of going to see this today. I didn't really get the casting of Theo James. he doesn't seem right to me. I also had no idea who he was before this, has he been in other movies? I hate when they change things that don't need to really be changed, like Tris using Four to shut down the program. I'm not sure why they really needed to change that part. I hope I enjoy it, we shall see :)

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    1. He's mostly been in TV shows, as far as I know. He played the Turkish ambassador in "Downton Abbey." Who was a jerk. So he's good at playing a jerk, and his portrayal of Four makes Four seem like a jerk. I think you're reaction to the movie will probably be something like mine - pleasantly surprised at how "unangry" it makes you. (Except for Theo.) I guess they thought changes like that would make it more exciting . . . . Like DIVERGENT was lacking in excitement in the first place. *roll eyes*

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  2. I'll probably give this movie a look once it's on RedBox or something. I've heard mixed reactions to it, and I haven't read the book, so I guess we'll see how it goes. Thanks for the recap! :)

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    1. It's an entertaining action flick for those who haven't read the book. Like you, I've read mixed reactions, too, though I think the DIVERGENT fangirls who say they like the movie is mostly based on the fact that they like Theo James.

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