(WARNING: IF YOU HAVE YET TO SEE THE MOVIE BUT YOU’VE READ THE BOOK, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER IN READING THIS. THIS IS YOUR SPOILER ALERT WARNING!)
I’m a tad behind on my “Divergent” review, but that’s only because I found myself in a few privileged predicaments, as I like to call them. Nonetheless, I’m so glad that I was able to contribute my dollars to the opening weekend of the movie because it was well worth watching to see Four and Tris rendered on the big screen. Even before the movie premiered, “Insurgent” and “Allegiant” were given the greenlight to be produced as films also and with good reason- this trilogy has a HUGE fanbase. I’m not sure if it’s on the level as “The Hunger Games”, but this will be the only time I will compare the two anyway. Divergent resonates with audiences today, especially young adult and adult readers, because it’s an interesting look into human personality, psychology, the idea of ‘groupthink’ and the choices that we make as humans when given the opportunity to show our true selves. What would you do if you were asked to choose what side of yourself you identify with most, knowing that you would have to live with others you have known since birth, or taking advantage of moving in with strangers whose principles you’ve felt more of a kinship with from afar ? Are you Amity(peaceful)? Candor(honest)? Erudite(intelligent)? Abnegation (selfless)? Dauntless(brave)? Factionless? Or Divergent, a blend of several ideologies?
Veronica Roth’s book made me think of those quizzes I used to ponder over in teen magazines. The ones that are based on your personality, due to how you would answer the questions compiled just for you and every other teenage girl in the universe. I always had a hard time picking just one or two answers, because I easily saw myself as an A and B, or A and C, etc. I could be both kind and smart, the girl who planned ahead and the girl who likes to be spontaneous. I’m both Carrie and Charlotte, with a dash of Samantha and a sprinkle of Miranda. Do I really have to be just one type of person? If I were a part of Roth’s post-apocalyptic world, I would be Divergent, hands down, because I know who I am. But what if I were born into a family dedicated to serving honesty or intelligence? Would I be so certain that I could be both or would I stay in the same lone faction until the day I died? It’s harder to tell knowing that information.
Having read the book before seeing the film, I went to the movie theater with some expectations. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to be 100% sold on Shailene Woodley playing Tris (I was… 200%). I wanted to see if Eric would be appear just as terrifying on brought to visual life as much as he was through Roth’s imagination and my own (he sure was!). I wanted to revel in Peter and his motley gang hell-bent on making Tris suffer (more on this later…). Overall, I was very pleased and cannot wait for “Insurgent” to be released. But here are some key differences between the book and the movie that I wish could have been rectified:
THINGS THAT MADE ME GO HMMM:
– Christina, Eric, and the chasm: In the book, this scene feels excruciatingly long. Also, from what I recall, there is water and lots of it. I didn’t feel like Christina’s life was really in danger in this part of the movie. In the book? I was holding my breath.
-Peter’s gang: For the sake of the film’s length, I knew, like with many book-to-movie adaptations, that some characters and events would be sacrificed. I just wish that Drew and Molly’s weren’t. Just like Peter in Roth’s novel, Drew and Molly were abhorrent characters. In the movie, Drew was not present and Molly was, but aside from having to fight Tris, Molly ends up thinking that Tris is cool after she stands up to Eric during the now famous knife throwing incident. I wanted to see Peter, Drew, and Molly go all out and make Tris cry for at least one moment.
-The physical struggle of Marcus and Andrew as they head to the Dauntless compound: I wanted to see these two huffing and puffing, trying to keep up with Tris on the way to Dauntless headquarters, as it’s imagined in the novel, but there is no way that Tony Goldwyn is unfit and Ray Stevenson looks buff, so there went that idea.
THINGS I TRULY LOVED ABOUT THE MOVIE:
-Tori: Tori, played by Maggie Q, is dope. Maggie Q is dope. The casting for this character is sublime.
-Casting: In fact, the casting for “Divergent” is A+. I know of some folks out there who were not too keen on Miles Teller as Peter, but I honestly don’t know who else could have played this character better. I thought that Peter would have been meaner in the movie, because he is an absolute terror in the book, but Miles injected his own take of Peter, which fit in perfectly with his surroundings and the imaginary circumstances made real. Anything more might have been on the hokey side. I’ve also read about how some people were upset about Shailene being cast as Tris, due to physical reasons, but seriously, she kills it in this part. She bring the right amount of strength and gravity to Tris and carries the whole film through and then some. It is amazing to watch. Plus she has major chemistry with Theo James (Four).
-Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd as Tris and Caleb’s parents: This is another nod to casting. They exuded selflessness to a T, just as they were supposed to. Plus, they both have a warmth to them that was lovely to see, especially when interacting with their children. When they had the chance to hug Caleb and Tris, it was moving and touching and made me smile.
-Seeing the “fearscapes” realized: They weren’t cheesy and added another element to how I envisioned Tris and Four’s nightmares since reading about them.
-Diversity: This is one of the most diverse casts (including the extras!) in a young adult movie I’ve ever seen thus far. I was very impressed.
-Kate Winslet as Jeanine: Call it “against type” casting, but I loved seeing Kate Winslet as a Big Bad. She was calculating, smart, and a villain whose ideas made sense. A scary thought for a scary character.
-The tattoos: !!!!!!
The questions that “Divergent” raises are very important and relevant. They are questions that young adults begin to think about as they try to navigate between school, parents, friends, teachers, and enemies. Then there’s the idea of the factionless, the castoffs of society who were either once who do the jobs that no one else would do, not just because they don’t want to, but because being factionless means to not belong, just the same as being divergent. Would you rather belong with people who are just like you, or be different, risking your life or your pride in the meantime? Like Four, I would want to have the qualities of all five factions- to be kind, selfless, intelligent, honest, peaceful, and brave. Wouldn’t we all?
“Divergent” dives into these themes and more head first and if they don’t make sense to you, I urge you to read Veronica Roth’s book. Unlike other book to movie adaptations I’ve seen, this one left me wanting more. Bring on “Insurgent”!
p.s. Watching “Divergent” made CrossFit appear less intimidating. My fear of heights and roaming around in the phobias that reside in my psyche is a much, much worse proposition.