Random Tuesday: Divergent the Movie Review

Divergent (2014)
Summit Entertainment
Dystopian / SciFi

This past weekend, I did what most other book bloggers did – I went to the movies and saw Divergent. This is my randomly written little review.

SPOILERS AHOY (FOR BOOK AND FILM)

 

Seriously I spoil the ending, so don't read any further if you don't want to know.

I liked it. I liked that they took out the eye-gouging scene, but left in the attempt at throwing Tris over the edge scene. I’m not too keen on eye-gouging. It was very fast-paced, and though you can see all the influences of other dystopian worlds on the plot and the environment, by the end it came into its own. The story jumps from plot point to plot point without developing any of the characters other than Tris, but it’s her show from beginning to end and there’s not much time for the side characters to have too many lines, much less personalities.

Everyone and their mom is going to make the comparison, so let’s get this over with. Shailene Woodley was a great Tris and had none of the flat out-of-place presence that Jennifer Lawrence did in the first Hunger Games movie. She embodied Tris with the same sense of conflict and bravery shown by the character in the book while still having this underlying sense of vulnerability. She truly portrayed Tris as embodying all the characteristics from the different factions.

I’m not going to pretend that it’s a perfect movie. If I think about it too much, I can find all sorts of issues, but it was still a fun film. The fact that Divergents are considered dangerous to the makeup of society was hammered in a little much and Kate Winslet’s Janine was a bit mustache twirly, but a decent foil to Tris. The change to the ending made no sense within the constructs set up within the story itself (if the computers are controlling everyone who thinks they’re in a simulation and can’t comprehend the orders from those not under mind control, how could Tris inject Janine and then command her to do something?).

Though I have to admit my biggest issue is the chemistry between the two leads. Personally I never felt it and was generally weirded out by the entire situation. The ages of Four and Tris are never divulged, but seeing nearly 30-year-old Theo James making out with a girl who is meant to be 16 or 18 squicked me out. Yes, Shailene Woodley is 20-something, but she can easily still pass as a teenage girl, where the scruffy face of Theo James cannot. It left me with a disconcerting icky feeling watching the romantic scenes. It was like the movie wanted me to root for a young high school teacher making out with his student in the teacher lounge. Even without the book’s background, the age difference between the two on top of Four being an authority figure for Tris just felt manipulative rather than the naturally built romance in the book.

And yet I still enjoyed it. It was a satisfying little Sunday afternoon adventure with a good female protag and several very exciting moments. It’s not a film that I need to own, but I’d rewatch it if I stumbled upon it on cable while doing chores or something.