Saturday, March 29, 2014

Divergent Movie Review

I give Divergent a cautious thumbs up. Cautious because it was good but not that good.

To set the stage, I loved Divergent the book. In fact, I liked it more than The Hunger Games. I didn't like Insurgent or Allegiant nearly as much, but Divergent was close to perfect as young adult dystopians go. So I went into the movie with high expectations. And mostly, the movie lived up to it.

How closely did the movie follow the book? It's been awhile since I read Divergent, so my memory of the book's specific details is a bit fuzzy. As far as I could tell, it followed the book quite closely but not so closely that it forgot the cinematic value of the story.

I'd heard elsewhere that there was a lot more contact between Tris and Jeanine than there was in the books. I don't remember what contact they had in the books, but I thought that the interactions in the movie were fantastic. The chemistry between them was palpable. Jeanine was arrogant, confident, and cruel. Tris was puzzled yet defiant. I couldn't take my eyes off them.

On another note, I loved the set for Dauntless's compound, the Pit. It was exactly how I pictured it in the movie. Dark and cavernous with raucous chaos inside, both good and bad.

How was the acting? It was fine. I don't expect anyone to get an Oscar out of their performance, but I wouldn't say anyone did a bad job. I probably liked Kate Winslet the best. Not sure if that's because she's such a good actor or because her character was well written. Either way, Jeanine was compelling and believable.

Shailene did a good job. She effectively portrayed a character who was small and timid who excelled not through brute strength but through hard work and determination. A lot of that is due to the script, but Shailene made me believe it through her body language. Shailene did a wonderful job on the few scenes where she had to be really emotional.

Theo also did good work, but Four did feel a bit flat to me. This seemed more the fault of the script than Theo's acting. Four didn't have a big range of emotions.

Problems:

1. It was tooooooo loooooooong. Divergent was almost two and a half hours. With rare exceptions, no movie should be two and a half hours. The movie flowed well and there was tons of action. Despite this, I found myself checking my watch multiple times during the last 30 minutes - the height of tension in the entire movie - and thinking "Is this thing ever going to end?" My husband (who also loved the book) didn't mind the length as much. He said that he didn't think they could have cut anything. I also can't think of particular scenes that they could have cut, but I still believe the movie would have been better if it had only been two hours.

2. Romance. Don't worry, there's plenty of Four/Tris romance in here. You see the characters go from initial distrust and dislike to respect and then ultimately to kissy kissy lovey lovey. But at the point of the movie where Tris tells Four "I love you," my instinctual reaction was "You do? Why?" They'd had a few make-out sessions and some emotional connection, but I didn't think the movie effectively showed that their relationship had progressed to the Love stage. The book captured the gradual build up better.

3. Will, Peter, Al, and Christina. I had the hardest time telling Peter, Will, and Al apart. They all were pale with dark hair and similar builds. Someone should have thought of that when they were casting. Eventually, I was able to distinguish their characters, but that was because I knew who they were from the book. Peter stood out after about 45 minutes, because he had more lines. Will and Al only had a few lines and were virtually interchangeable. If you hadn't read the books, you'd have no idea who they were or why you should care about them.

I liked Christina and thought she had just enough screen time to effectively cement her best friend status. However, they hardly touched on her romance with Will. I only noticed the subtle hints because I'd read the book. Admittedly this would have slowed down the plot, but it's important to Insurgent.

Overall

On the whole, I enjoyed Divergent. It's not as well acted or scripted as The Hunger Games, but it's still a fun movie and it didn't embarrass itself. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, but I really did like it. The film had some issues, but it did a great job of showing that a Young Adult novel/film can be about strength and action and not just sappy love scenes. I'd recommend it and will go see Insurgent and Allegiant (which I bet they'll split into two movies...grr...)

18 comments :

  1. Most people have had the same issues as you. A lot of people have been saying that Al, Christina and Will did not have enough screen time as well. I was looking at the opening weekend and it did okay. The director has already said it warrants a franchise which is good!

    I definitely agree with you that they will split Allegiant in to 2 parts. I have yet to read it because it was spoiled for me!

    Great review! It comes out 04/04 (see what they did there?) in the UK so I will go see it then! :)

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

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  2. I just posted my Divergent review also. It isn't a detailed as yours but I thought the same thing. I wasn't excited about it to begin with, but I couldn't really complain, not about anything big anyway. Overall I was pretty happy about it.

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  3. I heard that Insurgent got the green light so perhaps there will be a second movie. I liked it! I predict the ending will change in Allegiant but I could be wrong.

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  4. Yes I had the same issues with you about peter, will, and al. Great movie review and agree with you on it :) But I think four was a better actor , shaliene was okay.

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  5. Great review! On the 'cannot telling the difference between Will, Al, and Peter apart', EXACTLY! Same here.

    Cindy @ In This World of Books..

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  6. I don't seem to get all that excited for these movie alike everyone else. I'm kind of ok with just the book lol

    Most of my friends loved it but I have a feeling I would feel the same as you. I think I would enjoy it but not in love with it.

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  7. I haven't watched the movie yet. I think I will wait until it comes out on redbox. Move theaters are just too darn expensive to be disappointed.

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  8. I liked Divergent- the film- but I just like movies in general. But I can see your points and I totally agree. When Tris went and said "I love you"to Four, I had the same reaction as you. I was like "You do?" Haha, and I have read the book. I was disappointed that Drew wasn't a feature in the movie as he's pretty important in the next two instalments. Perhaps they'll introduce him later.
    I really liked Four- I thought he was pretty funny (when he needed to be)- Theo was a good choice.

    Anywho... I liked reading your thoughts on this. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Great review- I haven't seen it but we may tomorrow. Have not read the books but been curious about it. I've always liked Kate Winslet so it's good to hear she does a good job. Too bad it's too long... that seems to be a trend lately (cough Hobbit cough)...

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  10. So I loved Divergent too, the book was phenomenal. I didn't finish Insurgent, but I was listening to the audio which made have been the reason for this.
    And .. once I heard about the ending for Allegiant I didn't even start it. And this is my problem with also the movie, all I can think about is the endining in Allegiant...

    Anyway, You are right most movies do not need to be made so super long..

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  11. I have been hearing loads about this movie. I do plan on seeing it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  12. I also thought that it was just OKAY. I did enjoy it though, and I went with a non reader friend and he liked it as well. It's not a favorite of mine by any means, but it was enjoyable enough.
    I do agree with Tris' friends; they don't stand out enough for me to like them.

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  13. Oh glad I wasn't the only one who was confused by Will/Al/Peter. I wasn't sure whether it was just in my head. I do also agree that it was too long. Still, as far as book-to-movie adaptations go, this one was one of the better ones, for sure.

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  14. I feel quite similar to you. I do love seeing the world come alive. So much of it was how I pictured it, and it was amazing to see.

    And yes, just in case you haven't heard, they have officially decided to turn Alligiant into two movies.

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