Sunday, May 18, 2014

Movie review: Divergent


What’s so great about Divergent is the world building that author Veronica Roth does for us in the first book.  We as the reader, understand the experiences of what it means to be an initiate for Dauntless and we root for Tris as she goes through them.

Tris forms some great friendships to get her through the initiation, and those friendships are fractured as we reach the conclusion of the first book, and we as the reader, understand things have dramatically changed for Tris.

She starts out not really knowing who she truly is, and as she is tested, she starts to grow and understand who she wants to become, that she can be both Abnegation and Dauntless.

You are rooting for Tris throughout the novel.

Now we all know that adapting a book to screen can be tricky and there are some elements that are incredibly hard to ever adapt, and others that are left out.  Unfortunately the movie falls flat.

The film is nearly 2.5 hrs long and you would think that given that amount of time, we’d be able to care - and unfortunately we don’t.

The movie does the book no service, I wanted to want Tris (Shailene Woodley) to succeed, I wanted to see her develop her relationship with Four (Theo James), and her friendships with Christina (Zoe Kravitz), Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) and Al (Christian Madsen), and the animosity grow between her and Peter (Miles Teller), but the pace and the lack of development of  characters, including our lead, makes it hard to be invested in the characters and to care.

Tris on screen seems so formulaic and there is no chemistry between her and Four.  Her bonds of friendship are barely acknowledged in the film, making the pivotal scene where she shoots Will a bit of a shoulder shrug.

Divergent should be a more diverse world too.  Peter, Will and Al look so interchangeably alike it is hard to tell them apart.

Shailene Woodley herself is only believeable as Tris, when she is acting like Abnegation. However when she attempts to show a greater range of emotion, like after her attack in the Pit, as a viewer it feels too put on and less like you’re immersed in the world.

Was there anything I liked? I enjoyed Jai Courtney’s take on Eric, and Kate Winslet’s Jeanine completely looked the part, although her character started to unravel towards the end.

The two books after Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant, are messier than the first to read,and by the time you finish the series to be fair, you’re glad it’s over.  It goes from a great first novel to a ‘are you kidding me? This is a mess’ quickly.  If the first movie couldn’t be translated well to screen, there is little to no hope for the last two movies in the trilogy.

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