“Divergent” – A Movie Review

“Fear doesn’t shut you down, it wakes you up.”

One amazing book that has recently been made into a film adaptation is Veronica Roth’s “Divergent,” the first book of the trilogy. I loved the book the first time I read it through, so naturally I was super excited about the film. I ended up re-reading it again in the days before the movie, so that I could recall all the little details & remember what happened in the first book, and where it left off.

It’s hard to watch a film adaptation of a book you love so much. It’s hard because you have all these expectations, and some of them may be fulfilled, while others aren’t. But I have to say, the Divergent film was nothing but a pleasant experience for me.

Note: There may be spoilers below, so be aware!

Overall, I thought the movie was excellent. It was extremely well-done and it generally met my high expectations. I’m a big fan of Shailene Woodley, having watched her previously in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and also her recent film “The Spectacular Now.” I thought she played Tris well, forming this character who starts off pretty weak but begins to learn and own her strengths.

Many people will say that Theo James looked too old to play the part of Four…. and while I agree his age is a factor and he does look much more than two years older than Shailene (in reality, he’s seven years older), I didn’t terribly mind it. He played a very good Four.

Let me point out how strange it was seeing Miles Teller as Peter. A couple things here. First, it was odd seeing Teller & Woodley despise each other, as I had just recently seen them both in “The Spectacular Now,” where they have a very different relationship. Also – I’m pretty sure they never actually referred to him as Peter, so if you didn’t know that… it might have been a little confusing.

Ansel Elgort was a wonderful Caleb. He was kind, helpful, generous, but also wise and willing. He might have looked a little too comfortable carrying a gun in the end, but I’ll forgive him for that. It’ll be really odd seeing The Fault in Our Stars in a few months and having to put Elgort & Woodley together romantically after having seen them play siblings….

Here’s one thing that usually bothers me about film adaptations. There’s usually some point in the movie where I go “Hey, wait! Where did that HUGE CHUNK OF THE BOOK GO?!?”

But I didn’t have any moments like that with Divergent. It was more little things that were skimmed over or altered slightly. And while I was able to point them out, it didn’t bother me terribly.

For instance, why did Tris capture the flag in the end instead of Christina? I mean, it’s a silly plot point and it’s essentially meaningless, but I don’t understand the reason for the change. And as I type this, I realize we never saw Robert or Susan in Abnegation, but…. it took me 12 hours to realize that, so I guess it wasn’t a big deal. Or how the kids all sat with their families at the Choosing Ceremony…. weren’t they supposed to be separate? And how the Dauntless didn’t always jump off the trains, but how sometimes, the trains actually stopped for them?! Eric didn’t look quite like how I had imagined him, and Marcus was much older than I had pictured… but it all somehow worked in the end. Just little things here and there.

Oh, and how the heck did Tris’ mother do her makeup if she wasn’t allowed to look in the mirror?!

Some of the fight scenes were a little more dramatic than I had pictured them, but I can understand that – it makes them more “entertaining” on the big screen. I loved the simulations, I loved all the wardrobes, and the Ferris Wheel scene – one of my favorites – was solid.

Best of all, of course, were some points that were word-for-word from the book. The quotes, some of the scenes, etc. The movie was, overall, longer than I had anticipated it to be – it’s roughly 2 hours 20 minutes, plus previews – but it was pretty much perfect.

The one qualm I have to point out: neither Tris nor Four ever grabbed the hard drive at the end of the movie.

Sitting there, hearing them, watching all of this book come to life. It was great. I thought the actors did a tremendous job of portraying their roles. Within minutes, I was able to identify what character they were, without hearing their name. The scenery was perfect. Everything just fit, and I can’t wait till I have some free time to go see it again…. and again….. and again.


2 thoughts on ““Divergent” – A Movie Review

  1. Good review Melissa. I think it’s about time we give it up on all the damn YA novel adaptations. Too much of it is just getting familiar.

  2. Thanks for this! I loved the trilogy and can’t wait to see the movie, but I was hesitant it may be too dissimilar to the book (I have a hard time with the first Hunger Games because so much was left out!). Good to know it follows pretty closely.

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