Movie Review – Divergent

“You’re different. You don’t fit into any of the categories. They can’t control you. They call it divergent.” –Tori, Divergent

Divergent minimalist

I think that this movie is a good example of how readers get upset with movies being adapted from their favorite books. I really liked this book (see the review) and am somewhat disappointed with the movie. The movie on it’s own is fine, but as an adaptation, it has some issues.

I have always been extremely understanding of some changes that need to be made when adapting a book into a movie, but that doesn’t mean we can change the storyline. I’ve read and heard some other reviews that say that the “movie stays pretty true to the book” and they are only correct in the sense that it’s about 65% the same so I guess it’s more than half, but that’s not good enough for me. Maybe I’m stubborn or have been spoiled by movies that did very well adapting from the book- Perks of Being a Wallflower, both Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc. – but this one just didn’t quite cut it for me. You had changed story lines, missing characters, and basic concepts that had no business being changed but were for no apparent reason. The movie on it’s own is an interesting movie but since we – as readers of the book – know the real story, the movie just seems upsetting.

SPOILER ALERT

Alright, let’s get into the nitty-gritty about how this movie was different. This section will spoil how the movie ends and the differences in the book and the movie.

Characters:

Edward basically doesn’t exist. I mean, he’s in there, but he’s not the one everyone is competing with to get first. And he doesn’t get stabbed in the eye because he’s a side character that we never actually meet and no one cares about.

Jeanine Mathews has a bigger role in the movie than the book, but I don’t really mind. I like Kate Winslet and I understand wanting to make her a bigger character to make her a worthy villain. This is a change that I’m fine with.

Story Lines:

There are no inter-initiate love stories, except for Tris and Four (who is a member, not an initiate anyway). We don’t see that Al has a thing for Tris which makes his suicide a lot less meaningful than it was in the book.

After Tris fights Peter, she gets sent to the hospital wing where she is knocked out for a day. When she wakes up, Christina tells her that Marcus said Tris was out. The other initiates are leaving to go to the war games and Tris cheesily “heroically” chases the train and catches up and jumps on. She captures the flag (yes, Tris, not Christina like in the book) and earns her way back in to the program. Stupid, time-waster, and unnecessary change.

The ending… it’s different. And that’s an understatement. Four is not operating the system that’s controlling the other Dauntless members – he’s basically just sitting there getting controlled to do nothing. Tris has to ‘break his spell’ and does so the same way as the book. Here’s the biggest problems: In the book, there’s no one around and it’s basically Tris and Four trying to shut down the system. In the movie, Jeanine is there as well as many other Erudite members that Tris and Four have to easily obviously fight off because, well, they are Dauntless and they have trained for this so defeating untrained Erudite researchers is not really that big of a deal. It’s kinda like a karate student fighting a college professor – not really a fair fight and you can guess the winner. Oh, and then Tris throws a knife through Jeanine’s hand and injects her with the new serum so that Four can use the computer to control Jeanine to shut down and erase the system. So there’s no flash drive that she takes with her and no record of the attacks. Wonderful.

Randoms:

This one was really stupid to me: when Tris goes with the members to go zip lining across the city, she doesn’t get caught in the arms of the other members but instead has to pull a break cord to stop and almost doesn’t do it and almost hits a stone wall at 100mph. No point in changing that. The point of this part of the story was the comradery between her and the members and how they would symbolically catch her when she falls. But no. Just a lesson of ‘you can die if you do this.’

For time reasons, I get this one: There were only two levels of training instead of three. They basically combined one and two and just made one fear landscape training level. Ok, fine.

She only got the birds tattoo. She didn’t get the Abnegation and/or the Dauntless symbols on her shoulders.

There are about 35 initiates instead of 19 like the book. I don’t understand that except when she was trying to move up in the rankings and was making significant steps instead of jumping one place at a time.

SUMMARY

Basically, I was not impressed with this movie as a adaptation of the book but I am fine with it as a movie on it’s own. My job here is to see how the movie version of the book did and in this case, it did not do well. Maybe if I watch it again, I’ll like it more, but I was very distracted by the unnecessary differences and just didn’t love the movie like I thought and hoped I would have.

GRADE: D

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