Books in Motion: Divergent

divergent movie posterHello there, new feature! I decided a while ago that I wanted to start reviewing book-to-movie adaptations on the blog, but the perfect opportunity to do so didn’t arise until Sunday, when I went to the Divergent premiere in Leicester Square. I’m kicking off this feature with Divergent since it is released today in the UK (go watch it, fellow Brits!), and I have many more reviews and movies lined up to write and watch! My reviews are going to be spoiler-free when it comes to the movie, but I’m obviously going to be spoiling some parts of the book. It’s hard not to, right?

Initial Thoughts

As soon as I left the cinema – left my seat, even – I was giddy. I needed to get out of the crowded cinema so I could fangirl to Tatum, although I was cautious to do so because I wasn’t sure how she felt about the movie at that point. Divergent definitely wasn’t another Hunger Games, but it was highly enjoyable nonetheless, and I immediately wanted to watch it again. That’s always a good sign!

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Tris

Tris was every bit as charming as I remember her being in the book. I enjoyed watching her on-screen as she started off as physically weak, and very uncomfortable in her own skin and her environment, because she slowly grew stronger both physically and mentally. They did her character so much justice, and there were certain scenes where I was getting teary eyed over her awesomeness. The sexual assault scene was particularly uncomfortable to watch, but at the same time I was captivated as I was silently cheering her on while she fought off her aggressor.

Four

At first I wanted to punch Four in the face. I can’t remember how he was in the book, because I read it so long ago, but in the movie he starts off as a right jackass. While he was physically attractive, I wasn’t sure what Tris saw in him to begin with. But little by little he starts to improve, and Tris gets to know him better, and that’s when he begins to grow on you. I just hope that I don’t hate him in the Insurgent movie, because I really didn’t like him in that book. At all.

Casting

The casting of Four and Tris was very well done. I approve! At first I was very hesitant about Theo playing Four. He just didn’t look like the guy I saw in my head. Plus, Theo is nearly thirty. But, it worked out well, because he had that sullen look down to a T.  And yet he wasn’t dull or broody like Pattinson’s Edward Cullen. There weren’t many emotional scenes that really pushed his acting abilities or tested his range, but he did a good job with what he had.

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Shailene was also an excellent Tris. I’m probably going to cause an uproar here when I say that I think she was a better Tris than Jennifer Lawrence was Katniss in The Hunger Games. She fits the part much better, in my opinion. That’s not to say that JLaw is bad, I just think she wasn’t as good at playing her role in The Hunger Games as Shailene was at playing Tris in Divergent.

Shailene and Theo had amazing chemistry. Before the movie started, Kate Winslet herself said that the pair reminded her of herself and Leo back in their Titanic days. While I wouldn’t go that far (you can’t compete with the OTP of OTPs, the King and Queen of Hollywood, the epitome of true love, etc. etc.), they certainly did have a similar spark between them. Hell, they even won Tatum over, and she hated the book. I was trying so hard not to squeal out loud when the two of them were on screen together. They were great. I think we need an Insurgent movie just for the Tris and Four scenes, to be honest. Maybe I’ll actually like Four in the movie sequel, since I hated him in the book.

Queen Kate Winslet played Jeanine, and I was applauding her whenever she was onscreen. She made it so difficult to tell whether or not Jeanine was being genuine or not, and it was so much fun trying to decipher her true motives. Tatum also had a lot of fun trying to spot Winslet’s baby bump, which was hidden behind folders and iPads most of the time. I do think she needed more scenes, though. Mostly so I could see her beautiful face.

And, of course, I can’t not mention Jai Courtney, who played Eric in the movie. I 100% approve of this casting choice, since I’ve been a fan of Jai’s since his Spartacus: Blood and Sand days. I’ve vowed to follow the Spartacus cast wherever they go (Hollywood and entertainment-wise, of course. I’m not actually following them around in real life. At least, Dustin Clare doesn’t know about it yet.) Eric was a right arse in Divergent, and Courtney played the part wonderfully.

As for the rest of the cast, I have no strong feelings about them as very few of them were actually featured for more than a few minutes.

Pacing

I’ve noticed some people, particularly the critics, complain of info-dumping. Honestly, I didn’t think this was a problem at all. I thought that the explanations about the faction system and the dystopian society were very well done. There is an introduction at the very beginning of the movie with Tris talking about her city as different parts of it are shown on screen. This goes on for a couple of minutes, and it’s the only thing that I would class as an info-dump. The rest of the information is revealed naturally as and when it is needed.

The pacing throughout the movie was pretty flawless. It was on par with the book on that front. There was never a dull moment where I felt tempted to look at my watch. I was captivated the entire time.

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Adaptation-wise

Admittedly, it has been a while since I read the book. I think I read Divergent back in the spring of 2011, and before watching the movie I only remembered a few things about it, the most important thing being that I loved it. As far as I can tell, though, Taylor and Daugherty did a great job at staying true to the book. I would have preferred it if the movie had been given a higher rating so it could be more brutal and show the more gory scenes, but they needed the younger audience, I guess.

Favourite Bits

  • The action scenes! These were fucking brilliant. They were so well done in terms of direction and cinematography. The fight scenes had me in awe, especially as Theo did his own stunts. I loved that the camera didn’t have to shy away from showing his face during the fight scenes, and there were no weird or awkward angles. When Four and Tris work together at the end to fight against the Erudite team, I had goosebumps all over my body.
  • Shailene and Theo’s chemistry. This deserves another mention because they were hot. Very few of their moments were cheesy, which is what I was expecting.
  • How it’s such an true adaptation of the novel. This speaks for itself.

Sucky Bits

  • Lack of gore. There wasn’t enough for me, but as my uncle recently told me, I’m pretty deranged and bloodthirsty.
  • The secondary characters should have been built up more, especially Christina.
  • There was some awkward delivery for some of the characters, but that can be improved upon in the sequel.
  • ???? That might be it.
  • Nope, that’s definitely it.

In a Gif

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17 comments on “Books in Motion: Divergent

  1. Mel@thedailyprophecy 04/04/2014 2:16 pm

    Haha, the last GIF.

    I’m happy you liked Theo. I’m still not completely convinced of his cast, but I hope it changes after seeing the movie! As far as I can tell, I really like Shailene’s casting. She does look like the Tris I had in mind 🙂 I recently read the book in preparations for Allegiant, but it’s also a perfect timing for the movie! I hope to see it somewhere next week.

    • Amber 30/04/2014 8:18 pm

      It was difficult to find an appropriate gif! Haha. I wasn’t convinced either until I saw him on the screen, then I was like YES. FOUR. HAI.

  2. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction 04/04/2014 3:00 pm

    Yay! So happy to hear such positive things about this movie. I dont’ think I’ve read a negative take on it yet. I must get to the theater and see it soon!

    • Amber 30/04/2014 8:24 pm

      I’ve seen a few negative things, but to be honest those were mostly from “professional” reviewers and critics! Most of the fans seem to love it.

  3. Audris @ YA Bookmark 04/04/2014 10:01 pm

    Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed it enough to watch it again 😀 I can’t wait to see it on Tuesday and I’m super excited to see Miles Teller play Peter.

    • Amber 30/04/2014 8:25 pm

      I still haven’t managed to rewatch it, but I want to so badly! I might read Allegiant first and then go back and watch the movie. Just for the pain.

  4. Natalie @Natflix&Books 05/04/2014 3:47 am

    I still need to watch this, but I’ve heard nothing but good things so far. I’m definitely a fan of Ms. Woodley. I loved her in The Descendants and thought she was going to make a great Tris, so I’m glad that is the case. Oh, and I love Spartacus. Lol. I don’t know anybody else (besides my hubby) who is into that show. I’m definitely excited to watch this even more now. Great review!

    • Amber 30/04/2014 8:29 pm

      I haven’t seen Shailene in anything else, but now that I’ve seen her in Divergent I definitely want to check out some of her other work. Aside from TFIOS, because cancer stuff is a no-no for me. I’m so happy to have met another Spartacus fan! Not enough people have seen that show!

  5. Caroline Taylor 05/04/2014 2:15 pm

    You have made me even more excited for the movie than I already was and hopefully I’ll be going to see it in the next few weeks when I can afford it, feels like I have been looking forward to it for years. I am also hoping to re-read the first 2 books before buying Allegiant, sadly I know what happens in that book as I saw a spoiler but I still must read it.

    • Amber 30/04/2014 8:38 pm

      Yesssss *pats self on the back* Have you seen it yet? I spoiled myself for Allegiant because I’m a complete idiot. Oh well.

      • Caroline Taylor 01/05/2014 6:51 pm

        You’re not going to believe this, by the time I got around to going to see the film my local cinema had taken it off, so I have no clue when I will get to see it now! 🙁

  6. Kelly 06/04/2014 7:59 pm

    Yes! I was pretty apprehensive going in, because the last two adaptations I’d seen weren’t great (City of Bones and VA), but Divergent was awesome! I really liked Shailene as Tris, and Theo surprised me by how perfect a Four he played. I definitely agree that the secondary characters could have been developed more – I kept confusing Will and Allan(?); they looked too similar! Haha

    • Amber 30/04/2014 8:45 pm

      Hahaha City of Bones was appalling. I don’t like the books all that much but WOW that adaptation was awful. I haven’t watched VA yet but I think we’re going to see it this Saturday. That should be fun! *shifty eyes* Did they even mention Allan’s name in the movie? I can’t remember if they did!

  7. Chantelle 07/04/2014 4:15 pm

    Fingers crossed that I’m seeing Divergent this week! (comes out in 2 days here in Australia). I was most worried about Theo playing Four and his chemistry with Tris, mostly because his accent sounded funny on the trailer, but you’ve reassured me and now I just can’t wait to finally see it!!!! Great detailed review 🙂

    • Amber 30/04/2014 8:47 pm

      I hope you liked it! His accent was a little weird at times, but I think that might also be because of his voice? I don’t know, his voice is just very deep and sometimes croaky. Or maybe it’s the accent that is affecting his voice. WHO KNOWS.

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