As much as I can’t wait for this movie, another big part of me can’t wait for it to be over so that I can focus on one YA big blockbuster franchise at a time. When this is all over, I can thus give my heart, unequivocally, to Allegiant Parts 1 & 2, thank you very much.
So, a very enterprising young woman named Anna Todd writes a fan fiction story about One Directioner Harry Styles and it eventually is optioned by PARAMOUNT STUDIOS to become a movie. Oh but wait! The story will become a book first, thanks to Simon & Schuster, and we can all pick up a copy next Tuesday when it hits stores.
From “Fifty Shades of Grey” to this, I am even more inspired. I used to write “Degrassi: The Next Generation” spec scripts & “Smallville” fan fiction. I got this. Time for me to make a move! #thatwriterlife #fanficgotmelike
Last month I was able to catch a super sneak preview of “The Fault In Our Stars” with a friend. In the theater we were surrounded by middle and high school kids and the excitement in the air was so thick and encouraging. I’m so used to seeing movies with adults who either have their critic hats on or are updating their Twitter feeds well into the million and one previews playing. But watching a movie with a 99% audience of kids under the age of 18? This was a new experience for me in the best way because their enthusiasm for John Green’s book and adapted movie put the biggest smile on my face as I looked around before the movie began.
From the beginning shots of the film, I knew that we were all going to be in for a treat. One of the hosts for the film, involved with its local marketing and publicity in Philly, said that it was “perfect”. When you hear bon mots like “perfect” and “magical” to describe any form of entertainment, one can either get extremely excited or very cynical. But my gut was telling me that she may be right. After all, my girl crush for Shailene Woodley knows no bounds and Ansel Elgort has been wonderful in the two films that I’ve seen him in thus far (“Carrie”, “Divergent”) . I hadn’t read Green’s book at that point, but I just had the feeling that this was going to be one of my favorite movies of the year. By the way, it sure is.
What makes TFIOS so special is how endearing the story is without being mawkish and how natural all of the stars in the movie are. All of the actors left a piece of themselves in the respective characters that they portrayed without fear and many, MANY tablespoons of courage. I can’t see any other actor with the talent, range, and street cred playing Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac. Shai, Ansel, and Nat possess and brought vitality, humor, gravitas, and intelligence to their roles. The adults of this movie were also superb. Most of the teen movies that I still love and have shaped my affinity for pop culture and film (“Jawbreaker”, “Heathers”, “10 Things I Hate About You”, etc.) showed either barely visible parents, parents who were in the movie long enough to help push it forward and provide the funny, or parents who “just don’t understand”. I loved watching Laura Dern and Sam Trammell in TFIOS; I felt their heartbreak and empathized with their pain of being parents with a child that has a terminal illness. Seeing them, as well as the other adults in the movie, like Willem Dafoe and the refreshing Mike Birbiglia, was nice because in real life parents make mistakes and can be nasty or kind or just as worried about life as a teenager would be.
If you have not read the book, don’t fret. I read “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” before seeing the film and I felt as though I cheated in a way. I was introduced to the characters and the plot and there were times in the theater that I kept anticipating how different this scene or that scene would be compared to the book. The same thing happened when I went to watch “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent”. In the case of “The Fault In Our Stars”, I was pleasantly awake to the possibilities of every scene and didn’t anticipate just how much I would cry. Oh, this movie will make you cry. How much or less is entirely up to you and your disposition, but at least a tear or two will find its way out of your tear ducts.
If there’s one thing this movie confirmed with such grace and believabilty, it’s that life doesn’t have to be perfect. Trying to be perfect will drive you mad because a life lived in the pursuit of loving others is a wonderful life indeed. After you see this film, you’re going to walk out of the movies with puffy, red eyes and you’ll want to find the love of your life, if you haven’t already. Hopefully if you have found that special someone, you already know that being loved by them and by the ones that love you back is enough. What Hazel and Augustus teach each other about love and life in their young, epic romance is so touching and reminded me that even when life is at its worse that doesn’t mean that you have to be. Love still exists in the darkest of moments.
Go see this little film that could and will. You can listen to the hype and grand reviews (they are everywhere and it’s a bit hard to get away from unless you are an active non-user of any form of technology), but take the time to see “The Fault In Our Stars” for yourself to see what is being called “the greatest love story of our generation.” Sans vampire, zombies, and a dystopic backdrop, it’s a wonder of a movie filled with heart and pain.
(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.
It was between “The Maze Runner” and “The Giver” and the former won out. Sorry Meryl!