Well it is here. Are we trembling? Are we swooning over Theo James and wearing black? Are we gripping our copies of Veronica Roth’s epic book in our fingers as we witness DIVERGENT come to life on the BIG screen?
Well, I wasn’t. But, there might have been a few of them in the theater. I felt sorry for their husbands. Yes, they were mostly thirty somethings, and a Baptist Church van of 70-somethings (where they came from I have no idea). I wonder how they thought of the big picture representation, especially the few readers in the audience? You can always tell who are the readers – they have this look of anticipation in their eyes as they wait anxiously for the movie to start. It’s hard to describe, but I always can tell. I usually stop them after the movie and ask their thoughts. As far as me – my thoughts were very lackluster as I left the movie theater. The film was playing over in my mind and I couldn’t really say I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t really say I loved it. Which makes the hardest reviews to write.
What impressed me the most about the movie, Divergent?
The setting. Dystopian Chicago was amazing. They did such a phenomenal job with everything. I can’t even begin to imagine how they handled this. Unlike movies of its similar ilk, i.e. The Hunger Games where they have to come up with “new stuff,” The Capital, which is mostly CGI and dusty District 12 – Divergent had to represent an actual city, ravaged. The shores of Lake Michigan, obvious, but not so obvious. It was pretty cool how they did this, granted – it was a big tanker, left to rot on the shores…but it was still cool. The setting and the effects get a 5 star rating. Everything from the wind turbines on the buildings, to the rotted out ferris wheel that is a key scene in the book, everything thing was done spectacularly. I wouldn’t have imagined the interior of Dauntless headquarters, quite like they had it – but it worked.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of the film, or the novel it is based on, you have this dystopian world, scavenging off the remnants of a war-torn Chicago. They have a big wall that goes around it and everyone in this wall is separated into factions. There are five factions, each one represent a different virtue. Tris Prior is non of these faction she is Divergent and she has to face the consequences of being born this way. It doesn’t help that at this moment in time, certain events are happening that make being a divergent very dangerous.
Yes, blah, blah – I know most of you that are reading this review, know about the story. I’m just saying it just in case.
Back to the movie. So, we have Beatrice “Tris” Prior, who is played by Shailene Woodley. She is the main character of the film. The numero uno, sole focus of the story. Shailene Woodley, in all honesty, was probably the worst casting for this role. This movie would have been so much better if they would have cast this role differently. Woodley’s acting was about as stimulating as a robot. In fact a robot playing Tris might have done a bit better. The girl had the emotional capacity of a sea apple, if you’ve ever met a sea apple – you know how little emotion that is. The scenes in which she is supposed to show emotion, it just seems, well forced, I cringed instead emoting with her. Tris is supposed to be reserved, but this was bad acting, not reserved. Jennifer Lawrence does reserved in The Hunger Games, Shailene Woodley did robotic. The only time she really captured the part was when she was having the snot beat out of her, or when she was trepidatious. She’s got trepidatious down – now on to the next gamut of emotional reactions…nope…it didn’t happen.
Her acting ruined the movie. Even her narration was to be desired.
Then to expect LOVE from her. It didn’t happen. I didn’t even sense attraction. What girl wouldn’t at least look attracted when they viewed Theo James. She should have gotten that down…
Again, I’m going to compare this movie to another of it’s kind. TWILIGHT. Don’t freak. But, really – Twilight got a lot of shit about the bad acting of it’s cast. Just the intense blinking of whats-her-name that played Bella, received it’s own Tumblr blog. But – the reason the movie kept the fandom movie-goers happy – because of the Romance. Or, the swoon factor. The angsty, sexy, teen romance of awesome. Romance works. How many times have you seen Titanic?? Was it the sinking ship or the romance?
DIVERGENT, the book, has angsty, sexy, teen romance of awesome. Divergent the movie did not. Watching Woodley make-out with Theo James was akin to viewing make-out scenes with Catherine Zeta-Jones and ex-hubby Michael Douglas. Everything is legal, but, um… ew. Theo James, as Four is a man. Woodley as Tris is a girl. And they have this emotional music playing, Ellie Goulding’s Dead in the Water, then they have this sudden kiss and she says “stop” – and cut. Nothing. The song even cuts off mid passion. That clip you saw. Yeah, this one…
…shows all of the teen angst and romantic interplay in the entire movie.
And that was the crux of the whole endeavor. You have a great story, you have a great setting, but the main actress, is just not doing it for me and suddenly the whole movie just collapses and I’m not feeling it.
On to the happier points. Like I said, I enjoyed the movie Divergent, I just didn’t love it.
Theo James was spectacular. Ashley Judd, phenomenal in her small roll as Natalie, Tris’ mom. And even Kate Winslet, whom was inflated in her roll as Jeanine, was great. They gave Winslet so many more scenes then she should have had – all because she was playing this roll, I’m sure. I really don’t remember Jeanine being so significant in the first book. She even did the whole “bad guy monologue” of why she is taking over the world – which I really don’t like about the books. I don’t remember this being in the first book.
But, moving on to like. I even was impressed with Eric, played by Jai Courtney. But that was probably because I was lusting after him. Gawd those neck tats and eyebrow ring. Yeah, he was a bad boy, evil guy, but who cares!
My overall thoughts are that I enjoyed the movie. The acting of everyone but Shailene Woodley was excellent. The setting was excellent. And I just can’t get over the casting of Tris – have the movie makers watched the SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER? They probably are hoping that she’ll trump Jennifer Lawrence as actress sweatheart now that she’s landing roles like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (I shudder to think how that one will go over!). But, hey I don’t make movies. Also, they showed clips of the sexy scene – and the fans went wild – why was it so neglected in the whole movie? That sells tickets. Romance. It was just too subtle. I didn’t feel it.
This is not THE HUNGER GAMES. It might be a close second, though. A ton of critics disagree with me. They love Woodley, calling her acting “subtle.” I guess it was too subtle for me.
I’m unfortunately of the opinion that the movie makers have to step away from the “best selling YAs” for awhile, leave them alone. Come up with your own ideas for a bit and let our global consciousness forget these few attempts at trying to blockbuster and already phenomenal piece of literature. In the EW piece they say this about DIVERGENT: “The template seems simple enough: adapt a best-selling dystopian YA book with a dynamic female heroine, sit back, and start counting the moolah.” But, I don’t agree. Out of the last ten films, only a few are a home run…mainly just two franchises in particular, TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES. And I doubt DIVERGENT will come anywhere close to those type of ticket sales.
Go see it though, you’ll enjoy it on the big screen. It is worth the extra expense to see it in all it’s glory. The panoramic views of the city will take your breath away. The action scenes, the jumping, the fighting the zip lining. All fun. All worth it. It’s just when Woodley opens her mouth…