Film Review: DIVERGENT

Alrighty – quick synopsis of story – Beatrice leaves family and whole identity behind to become dauntless. She completely transforms, discovers crazy, messed-up conspiracies, and meets the dude of her dreams. All she has to do is survive super dangerous initiation, evade J.A. Jerkwads trying to kill her and all other divergent, and keep her man from killing her.

Everybody hide! Spoilers are inbound!

*Also, I suspect you won’t find this review interesting unless you’ve read the book. I’m way too analytical.

Divergent is one of my favorite books in recent history. Honestly, the series as a whole isn’t that great, but Divergent is awesome. Some reasons it’s awesome:

1. It examines fear in deeply personal, thoughtful and B.A. sorts of ways.

2.It examines selflessness in deeply personal, thoughtful and B.A. sorts of ways.

3.It examines family and friendship in deeply personal, thoughtful and B.A. sorts of ways.

4. There are some crazy cool scenes that I really wanted to see up on the big screen.

5. The world building was unique and immersive.

Okay… that had to be said because I’m pretty annoyed about some of the choices the writers/director made.

My top 5 biggest complaints about scenes they cut or altered:

NUMBER 1: Tris should not have had mascara or eyeliner on throughout the hair-cutting scene or really at all until Christina taught her to wear it. Not only was this something an abnegation would never do, but the writers/filmmakers also lost an opportunity for building the friendship between Christina and Tris. They also pulled me out of the movie from scene 1, keeping me from suspending my disbelief.

NUMBER 2: Nobody fell and died when the initiates jumped off the train and onto the roof. This was a necessary event because it’s when Tris (and the audience) really sees how barbaric this initiation is going to be.  Without it, nothing is quite as frightening as it should be.

Number 3: Cutting the scene where Edward loses his eye was THE BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER!!!!

That scene served several purposes. It made things pretty real to Tris and the reader/viewer; it revealed Peter as completely demented and set him up as our villain (justifying the fact that Tris later shoots him even though he’s unarmed); it gave Tris a chance to be selfless by comforting Edward and cleaning up his blood afterward; it gave a name and a face to the factionless.

Sidenote: Edward’s story plays a relatively large role in the second book, so I suspect they’re planning to cut him out completely or make further unnecessary and annoying changes.

NUMBER 4: No parent’s visiting day… so mom shows up at the Amity trucks? Okay, I understand that they needed to make things happen faster; even with their changes, the movie felt a little long to me. Still, they didn’t do enough to set that scene up so it was abrupt and confusing. More significant, though, the writers forfeited too much. They forfeited emotional release (from Tris finding out that her mom still loves her), character and world development (Al not even going out to see his parents, Will’s sis yelling at Tris, dad’s choice not to come, Erudite not allowing visitors, etc…), and all significance in mom’s story.

Mom standing in her abnegation clothes in the midst of all the Dauntless was really a beautiful testament to selflessness and love. The revelations that she was familiar with the compound and knew about divergence were HUGELY important to Tris’s growth in selflessness and bravery. Her mother ends up being her primary example of those two attributes perfectly combined and put into action throughout the series, so I think they needed to spend more time on it.

NUMBER 5: There was ZERO CHARACTER BUILDING of Al before he attacked Tris. Consequently, it hardly seemed like a betrayal and I wasn’t particularly sad when he died.

Okay, now, so there’s one more significant problem I want to mention before wrapping this review up. I think the filmmakers inserted Jeanine into the story WAY TOO MUCH. I get that when you have Kate Winslett in a movie, you have to give her lines, but they traipsed her around stupidly. She was in places where she wasn’t safe and she wasn’t very mysterious because she was constantly talking with Tris (at the choosing ceremony, in Dauntless headquarters, etc…). Jeanine is supposed to be Erudite; she’s the smartest of the smart, so it makes no sense that she would put herself in physical danger. Also, she’s an elitest intellectual. She’s above the people she was constantly talking to… like Tris.

There were a billion trillion other changes they made that I hated, and yet, I would have accepted them had the writers still examined fear, selflessness, family and friendship in personal, thoughtful and B.A. sorts of ways. I have to hate the film because it abandoned the attributes of the book that made it worth reading. Many of the scenes were cool, but shallow. They were action-packed, but substance-light. Fear isn’t something that can be fully revealed through action. Nor is selflessness. Nor is friendship or family. There were slow moments in the book that the film neglected, and for that, I can’t accept it as a part of the franchise.

If you see the movie, see it as it’s own entity, because it is too inferior to the book to classify as the same story.


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