Movie Review: Divergent
by Serena Wong
The wait for the hit-book-turned-movie “Divergent” was finally over. Having premiered on March 21, 2014, fans of the book flocked to see whether the movie lived up to their expectations of the book. For many, there were mixed reviews.
Starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James, there was no denying that both actors portrayed their parts to the hilt. Woodley came off as intense but naive, perfectly mirroring her role as Beatrice (Tris) Prior. The same could almost be said for James. Although he maintained the characteristics of the tough and sassy ‘Four’ (Tobias), there was much to be said on his lack of vulnerability. The book portrays Four as someone whose exterior had hardened because of life experiences. The vulnerability was simply lacking.
There was no questioning the chemistry between Woodley and James. (Several people in the theater started clapping during the culmination of their relationship, myself included.) Their scenes were filled with tension, crackling with electricity, to the point where it was almost impossible not to get out of the seat and cheer. Chemistry among the other roles and the main characters was quite dynamic as well. Kate Winslet, who also played a prominent role in the film, gave off the demeanor of being cold and heartless, true to her novel persona. One could plainly see in the confrontations between she, James and Woodley that she was not someone to be liked.
Several characters remain questionable, however. The supporting roles weren’t as true to form. One was too short, her hair not the right length. The other was not portly enough, and didn’t allow me to see the true extent of his character, which was essential to the plot.
The movie left several plot holes, and differed many details than were in the book. For the average moviegoer, they might not be relevant details, and had they not read the book, the movie might still be perceived as excellent. But for the avid reader, the changes and switchups throughout the movie would leave them quite frustrated. Events were cut, details were omitted, and generally had me gesturing at the screen, thinking, “This wasn’t supposed to happen!” It came to the extent where a major scene wasn’t delivered with the impact it should have had, for the screenwriters had completely left out a relationship that made the whole scene relevant.
Despite the plot setbacks, the movie was rich in special effects that were quite realistic in their appearance. All of the scenes appeared as they should have been, with the exception of two–one was that an event happened in broad daylight instead of in the dead of night, and the second was that a room was not portrayed as it should have been. Nevertheless, the artistic director should be quite proud of himself.
The soundtrack was also quite delightful. Most of it was furnished by British singer Ellie Goulding, and while a single singer is normally grounds to make a moviegoer nervous, she achieved the music to the movie in such a way that it became an add-on experience. The presence of other artists was a boon to the film as well.
“Divergent”, while paving ground as a novel, still has quite a ways to go in the terms of the movie living up to the expectations of the book. While the decisions made by the screenwriters to change plot and details were understandable and perhaps even necessary to make the movie as intense as it was, I as a reader feel that the original details should have been incorporated more. Overall, however, it was quite an asthetically pleasing movie.