After 2 long years, I’ve finally watched Divergent! I’m still coming to terms with that because I got so used to waiting and anticipating, it’s a little odd now that it’s over. Although, there’s always Insurgent to wait on and anticipate… Divergent is released today in Singapore and my friends and I had been blessed enough to obtain tickets to the premiere, which was held last night.
How did I feel about the film? It was wonderful. I laughed, cried, hated and loved along with the characters, which I will go more in-depth in my movie review below. I’ve never written a movie review but neither do I want to write the sort of reviews movie critics write. Sometime in the future, I would also be doing a post about the legitimacy of ‘professional’ reviewers/critics (after I’ve done the needed research) so do look forward to that. Anyway, in left picture are my friends and I posing with my Divergent poster after the premiere. Unfortunately, JZ couldn’t make it for the premiere because she had to go to camp but… I’m definitely watching Divergent again with her!
As for the 2 slices of cake, I bought them after the premiere to celebrate finally having watched Divergent with my friends after such a long wait and to compensate for the absence of Dauntless cake in the movie. I’m sure Dauntless cake would’ve tasted better though. ;)
Before starting my very first movie review, I would like to warn you readers that I’m (obviously) inexperienced at reviewing movies instead of books but I will definitely guarantee complete honesty and a (mostly) unbiased point of view. There’s only so much a fangirl can do to refrain from shoving her fandoms in others’ faces. I would say this review is better suited for those who’ve read the novel but I might be doing another review of Divergent for non-book fans after I’ve watched it a second time. The keyword being ‘might’.
Divergent Movie Review
As many fans of books that have been turned into movies can relate to, I constantly found myself comparing the Divergent film and novel yesterday. However, here’s a piece of advice: don’t bother, it stuck so close to the book it was almost scary. I assumed that was because Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent trilogy, was also the co-producer of the film.
I shall start of with the good. There were two things in this film that prominently stood out to me; one being Shailene Woodley’s amazing performance as Tris, the protagonist, and the second being the incredible soundtrack and score that fit every scene perfectly. I will admit when I first heard of Tris’s casting, I had my doubts about Woodley. She was too tall to be petite Tris, she looked too mature while Tris was called a ‘little girl’ multiple times throughout the book and I’ve never seen any of Woodley’s movies. Of course, now all my past doubts make me look like a complete bigot.
Woodley perfectly portrayed both Tris’s vulnerability and courage. From joking around with Christina (Zoë Kravitz) and trying to figure out Four (Theo James) to being the first jumper, working up the ranks against other Initiates and losing those close to her, Woodley played Tris exactly as how fans would’ve imagined the dauntless main character in the books – imperfectly perfect. There was one particular scene that blew me away (SPOILER ALERT: FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW THE STORY, DO NOT HIGHLIGHT THAT WHITE BLANK) which was when Tris lost her mother. (END OF SPOILER) The raw emotion Woodley showed was utterly touching and heartbreaking. And if you’re wondering, yes, I cried.
Moving on to the soundtrack and score, they complemented the movie incredibly and really brought the atmosphere to life. My favorites were the scenes of Tris zip-lining (music played was I Need You by M83), that very special Four-Tris scene with Dead In the Water by Ellie Goulding playing in the background and when Tris jumped on a train for the very first time (music played: Run Boy Run by Woodkid, the drums for this one was spectacular). I still love the whole soundtrack though, and it’s literally playing on repeat right now.
Now, on to the negative (or as I would prefer to call it, not-as-good). I felt the movie could be quite confusing to those who have not read the books, although not overly so. The concept of the society in Divergent was easy to grasp but how their odd governing system could have thrived for a hundred years was puzzling. Having read Allegiant, the last novel in the trilogy, it made sense to me how they survived so my suggestion for those who have not read the books is to be patient, and know that all will be explained in the end. Everything would also make sense.
Another aspect I found disappointing was the absence of a specific scene involving a butter knife and abundant violence. In an interview, Neil Burger, the director of Divergent, did mention how they had filmed the scene but as it did not fit right with the other scenes, it had not made the final cut. However, that missing scene could be overlooked when compared to the amount of greatness in this film.
Some other mentionable points, I really loved the unexpected humor involved in Divergent. I laughed much more than I’d thought I would though you can’t blame me for expecting a borderline too intense movie adaptation of Divergent. The book was already pretty mind-boggling! The relationship between Tris and Four, portrayed by Shailene Woodley and Theo James, was stunning as well. It had all the understanding (how Four knew Tris was strong and independent), tenderness, slight awkwardness (hey, it’s a teenage love affair, if it’s not slightly awkward, it’s not realistic) and right pacing of Tris and Four’s relationship. I honestly could not have imagined it better done! However, at parts when Woodley played Tris flawlessly, it made James’s acting skills seem a little questionable despite him being an amazing actor too. I would say Woodley outshined most of her co-actors in this flick but the cast still worked fantastically well as a whole.
The ending of the movie might feel a little too fast for those who have not read the book but because it was pretty much a copy and paste of the book’s conclusion, the issue can’t be blamed on the film. The action involved was also spot-on and I loved how the hard time Tris had in the first stage of initiation (physical training) had not been glossed over. In the theatre, I heard audible gasps during her fight with Molly and Peter and the other violence shown in the film was just right, bringing realism to the movie but not overdoing the gore.
All in all, Divergent was not a perfect movie (because no movie is, after all) but the positive undoubtedly outweighs the negative. I will be honest and say the film felt more directed at the readers of the novel but it definitely will have an appeal to non-readers with the action, dystopia and brilliant characters involved. Staying very much true to its extraordinary original story, the Divergent film is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve seen so far and do I think the franchise will go places? Sure, success won’t be easy with critics hating on the young adult genre but I do have complete faith in the outcome of Divergent. It is, after all, one of my most loved fandoms. So what are you doing sitting here reading reviews? Go watch the film already!
P.S. Click here for my book review of Divergent!