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Divergent (2014)


Divergent
 
Perpetually, I am the last girl who has opportunity to get in her fan girl moments for popular cinematic masterpieces, such as Divergent. The reason I’m discussing this at the beginning of my latest book-to-movie adaptation experience, you ask? Because, I’d like you to accept my thanks for indulging my gushing. I have no one who cares to listen to said gushing (because family/friends don’t know why the heck I like dystopian), ergo Internet, you are nominated.   

The society in which young Beatrice Prior lives is one of rules. Rules meant to be followed and left unchallenged. Divided by five fractions, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is of the Abnegation fraction, the fraction that never turns away the fractionless; they help the less fortunate, refuse to give in to vanity and are also the government for the fraction system. Upon coming of age, every child must take a test that is supposed to tell them which fraction they belong to – who it is they are. Beatrice’s test reveals a dark secret: she is Divergent – the one thing that poses the biggest threat to the fraction system. She can be whatever she wants. 

Warned not to trust anyone by one of the protectors (Maggie Q) of the system  –  Dauntless, Beatrice doesn’t know who to trust with her secret. Following her heart, she along with her brother, Celeb (Ansel Elgort) chose different fractions, leaving their parents (Tony Goldwyn, Ashley Judd) heartbroken. Becoming Tris in her new identity, the freedom of Dauntless is at first exhilarating. But Tris soon learns that if she wants to survive – and bury her secret, she’ll have to fight harder than ever to fit in. Hunted by a fraction leader (Kate Winslet) and forced to trust in the help of Four (Theo James), a mysterious member of Dauntless, Tris uncovers a larger fight is just over the horizon 

Okay… wow. I absolutely loved this film. The story wasn’t one I knew prior to seeing the film (I know, you have my permission to be sufficiently dismayed with me), however that didn’t stop me from becoming engrossed in this as a cinematic piece of brilliance. There is something “different” about this film for a dystopian. When it’s put down to basics, it really is an altered version The Hunger Games, yet it is so much different and – dare I say this? – better than Suzanne Collins story. The writing is far more fragile and emotionally vested than anything else I’ve seen of dystopian. Everything about Divergent is spectacular – the stunts, the costumes, the story and most importantly the cast. I knew who Shailene was back before she was anyone, which has made it fun to see what she’s starred in as an adult. She played off of Theo well (more on the characters and relationship down the page) and the supporting cast was equally brilliant – seriously, I don’t think there was any one person who was a weak link. There is veteran talent and fresh new faces, all of whom stepped up their game to embody already famous roles – even without meeting them in their original creation, I felt like these actors brought everyone alive to the fullest extent, which isn’t always a probability. If there is a more perfect cast, I don’t know who it is.
 
Divergent
 
Something that struck me halfway through was how “quiet” this film is. It really took its time building up to the excitement of its action, using the time to the best of its ability. Because of this uptake – not throwing us into breath-catching action posthaste, some viewers could think this 2+ hour film is “boring.” I wasn’t bored. Instead, I was transported into the story, one that I merely expected to enjoy without much more to it. It’s really the “little things” that structure the fuller picture of this film – not just in the quieter storytelling, but also in how the characters come about. May I just say thank you to whomever (Veronica or the scriptwriters/actors) made sure a teen, dystopian, fill-in-the-blank romance – for once! – was anything but angst-y? If I had to pick merely one thing about this movie to love (impossible, but…), it’d be the romance. Its way more swoon-y than many of its peers without all the drama and it involves one of the more tender (teen) romances I’ve run across. 

On some random movie trivia – Shailene has starred with two of her fellow co-stars in two separate films. First she starred with Miles Teller (Footloose) in The Spectacular Now and then this past year she starred with Elgort in The Fault in our Stars only they played boyfriend/girlfriend in that film, whereas here they are siblings. (Also, Teller tried out for the role of Four, was denied then offered the role of creepy (my word) Eric, before eventually accepting the role he ultimately played.) The production was brilliant. I loved everything about the “less important” details from the special effects to the fight sequences, to the script. Everything clicked and created a kind of magic I don’t often experience from this type of film. Between its characters – this heroine has a personality and let me tell you, this is needed – and the emotions that run through the script, all of the hype for this one is merited. Easily, this is my favorite flick compared to recent films in its class, plus it’s just darn entertaining. That’s good enough.

CONTENT: Tris enters several stimulations as part of her training, in one of them she briefly imagines a man attempting to force himself on her – other than his hand under her shirt and then being thrown down on the bed, the scene goes no further. There’s some kissing, though mostly any problematic content will be found in the violence – many people are shot and killed [three of which are emotionally impacting], non-graphic. There is also some hand-to-hand combat that gets rough along with some tense moments. One character commits suicide others are referenced as having been murdered. This film is rated PG13.
 
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Rissi
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33 comments:

  1. If you loved them film, then I definitely think you'll enjoy the book! If it was just based off of the films, I think the first in Divergent was better than the first in Hunger Games. But for me, the books are a slightly different story ;). I need to finish the series (I've only read Divergent), so maybe I'll change my mind. :) Great review though! I'm looking forward to the next one too!

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    1. I do too, Jamie! I plan on reading the book - despite knowing what the ultimate conclusion is, I just really enjoyed this movie, and I agree with your assessment of this vs. the HG movie. Ooo! You have me curious; once I read the books, we'll have to discuss. ;)

      Same here - bring on the sequel! Plus... this cast!

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  2. Okay this is making me feel even more guilty for STILL not having read Divergent. I need to read it...and probably watch the movie, too, from the sounds of it. :)

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    1. Never fear, we'll be guilty together, Melissa (always glad to have you drop by!), since I've yet to read the book. Now I've seen the movie though, I'm *dying* to read Veronica's stories. If you like dystopian, you'd enjoy this. :)

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  3. I plan to read the Divergent series after I finish The Hunger Games (which will probably be in the next couple of days). I recently heard that Veronica Roth actually created Divergent out of The Hunger Games, just without the Hunger Games. :P I hope it's better than its inspiration, because other than the first novel, I haven't enjoyed THG very much. But, who knows, I still have Mockingjay to read.

    walking in the air.

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    1. Really? That's an interesting fact, Hannah. I can believe it... they are quite similar (right down to what the good are fighting to protect) though in all honesty, I liked this better. The Hunger Games as a book didn't work for me, though I enjoyed the movie (and the 'Catching Fire' movie even more so), however there was just something about Divergent that I loved.

      I have issues about THG as well. But, for whatever reason, I'm keeping up with the movies and plan to finish the series soon. Far as the books go, most I hear is that 'Catching Fire' is the best of the bunch... :)

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  4. I've been telling you that Divergent was awesome! You have to read the trilogy before Insurgent comes out March 20th 2015~ Glad you loved it!!!!

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    1. You have indeed, Shannon! As I was writing this, I remembered you talking about how good it was. Thank you! :)

      Oh, I will definitely be reading the books - as you say, hopefully I'll have the chance to do so in advance of the next film because well, I'd prefer reading first then seeing the movie. That's always the goal. :)

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed the movie. I hope it inspires you to read the series because it is one of my all time favorite series! I'm not a huge fan of THG series, and I read it before I picked up this series. As for the movie, I think it's one of the best book to movie adaptations I've seen. They did a great job not adding things that weren't in the book. *cough cough Mortal Instruments movie* Great review Rissi!!

    P.S. I'm not sure if she created Divergent out of The Hunger Games ^ but I did watch an interview where she was talking about how she came up with the idea. She said it came to her when she was taking a Psychology class about dreams and it just kept growing from there. Which I thought was pretty cool. =)

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    1. Regina,

      Okay. :) It's not very wise to take one witness as the only answer, which unfortunately I do ALL the time. I wouldn't be surprised if she drew inspiration from THG OR if she had the idea for Divergent long before THG ever became popular--that happens sometimes. Heck, people say LOTR plagiarized Harry Potter--well, the weirdos who don't know that LOTR was published in the fifties, not the nineties ;)

      walking in the air.

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    2. Regina - me, too! I'm just delighted, I liked it as well as I did because I expected merely to be entertained without anything "more." Imagine my surprise when I found there was a lot to this adaptation. Filmmakers did a masterful job even though I suppose I shouldn't comment in terms of how the book transitioned... it just seemed like it did because everything melded very well. Glad to know it's well done.

      Thank you for reading!

      Hannah - ideas happening before an idea became popular DOES happen all the time. I've had an idea then realized, "wait... that's been done before." *sigh* It happens to us all. :)

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  6. I'm glad you liked the movie! I read the book last year and honestly, I was really disappointed. I had heard such good things about it, but I just didn't enjoy it. I guess my main problem was that people would actually choose to go into Dauntless, which was basically a violent faction that just fought a lot. And it wasn't because they had to fight to survive (like in The Hunger Games), but they chose to? Anyway, it just didn't click with me. I didn't connect with any of the characters...honestly, the story didn't make me feel any emotions at all, which is really unusual! (It did keep me turning the pages, I'll give it that...) I will see the film, just to see how the adaptation from book to screen is, but I don't plan on reading the other two books.

    Another problem I have is that I can never see the guy who plays Four as anyone other than the Turkish diplomat from Downton Abbey. And that creeps me out. :)

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    1. Aw, bummer. It's never fun when something disappoints; believe me, I've experienced that as well. I think that's why I loved this movie so much; I settled in merely expecting to be entertained not find something that was emotionally impacting. Thank goodness I went in with an open mind - it was just... good.

      I don't think I got the impression Dauntless was merely for the purpose of being violent "fighters" just for the heck of it from the film, I guess I saw their purpose as being a good one in the beginning (before evil got their clutches into them) - one that protects vs. harms, however maybe the book puts them in that light or more likely, I just didn't see it as the story did intend. It'll be interesting to find out if I like the books after raving about the film... someday I'll get to them! ;)

      Oh. My. Gosh. I didn't connect the dots about Theo! Ha. That is ironic - that Turkish dude was creepy, so yeah, I get your reservations. Have to confess. I liked him as Four. ;)

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    2. To me Dautless was no different than someone picking to make a career of being a military or police which was kinda what Dauntless was. Their real goal before evil Eurudite leader played by Kate Winslet wanted to take over the whole world was to protect all the other factions from the evil that was out beyond the gate and farm fields. They were the military of the after the war Chicago. Yes they got under simulation and were not them selves but maybe Veronica Roth was just showing how easy it is to get under someones spell. The other 2 books were great and my 13 year old and I like them a lot better than Hunger Games. Heck they are even allowed in our Catholic school library. :) Theo is a great Four that Miles and Ansel would not have been. Ansel tried out for Four also, then he tried for Caleb and got that role. Ansel Elgort is going places and he is going to be a big name! My 2 girls are head over heels for him and Nat Wolff ( Isaac in TFIOS).

      Do have to say Eric was a scary character which is weird since Jai comes across as such a sweet guy in interviews, guess that means he is a good actor. However I loved the scene when they were getting ready for Capture the Flag and Molly was like you call that a gun. Then Eric shots her in the leg with the neuro stem dart. I know I shouldn't find that scene funny but she was such a little no it all character.

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    3. Shannon - Eric IS indeed a freaky/scary character. Yikes. I like how well that comes across and if the actor seems nice in interviews, then, that is awesome and a sign of fabulous acting. :D

      I agree; that scene with Eric and Molly... it's not funny, but, well, she was such a know-it-all, it was nice to see Eric trying to teach someone else a lesson instead of picking on Tris 24/7!

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    4. Okay, I just watched the film last night and I had to come back here and eat my words. :) I actually liked the movie *so* much more than the book. I was really surprised by how much I liked it, honestly. There are still some things that bug me...I still think that the people in Dauntless are crazy and that maybe they're a bit unnecessarily violent (I do remember now from the book, though, that Four represented the original goal of Dauntless- protecting the other factions- and Eric represented the new Dauntless that had fallen from their original goal). And I feel like in the movie they made it look like Tris joined Dauntless just because they were reckless and wild and "cool" and so different from what she's used to. But anyway, otherwise I was really impressed with the film. And I got over my reservations about the Turkish diplomat and fell for the romance, too. I was surprised by how addicting the film was, too...I was a bit fuzzy on details and so the last part was really suspenseful!

      So...I stand corrected. I still much prefer the Hunger Games (the dangers of the Capitol and that whole situation feel a lot more realistic and terrifying to me), but this movie was good. I had no intention of seeing the sequels, but now I definitely will (though I don't plan on reading the books).

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    5. Aw, yay, I'm so happy you wound up liking the film. Those kind of stories are just the best kind; it's so much more worth it when a story just takes us by surprise - those are the most meaningful. :)

      No matter how much I adore a story, usually, I say there is something that bothers me because nothing is "perfect." In the case of this story, I have to confess, I wasn't bothered by Dauntless. I see Tris' desire as one of being with the "cool kids" (as you say) and from the viewer's perspective, I feel like the understanding is that their purpose was meant to be for the right reasons, only they fell under the wrong kind of authority. Yay for enjoying the romance despite the Turkish dude... I thought it was charming and relatively drama-less which is what made it "work" so well. Plus, they were good together.

      I just can't get past the loss of free-will in THG or more accurately how it comes about, kids killing each other; at least with Divergent, they don't know what they're doing! Either way, I'll looking forward to reading both book series (only read THG) and seeing how that pans out - I *do* love THG films lots better thus far and am hoping that continues with the third film. :D

      Glad you came back with your thoughts, Kristin!

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  7. Yay, Rissi! I'm so glad you enjoyed the movie…although now that's another reason to read the books ;) I thought this was a fabulous book-to-movie adaptation. While I have yet to read the last two books in the series, I loved Divergent so, so much! Roth is a talented author, and her book left a huge impact on me. I've been gushing about the book ever since I read it three years ago (wow, it's been a while!), so I'm glad you're finally going to read it.

    Cannot wait for the sequel to premiere!

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    1. Absolutely! The plan is to read the book... you know, once I can pluck a book off my shelf instead of that review-to-be-read. ;)

      That's what I've been hearing, Jillian. Everyone seems to enjoy this more as an adaptation than most movies I've seen. I'm glad seeing this was the push to convince me the books are MORE than worth reading. If the film was THIS good... yeah, the books have to be awesome. And yes, bring on that sequel. Cannot. Wait.

      Wonder what Veronica will write next now her "big" series is over...!

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  8. I am so happy you liked the movie! I liked this series way more than I liked The Hunger Games...but I have to admit after putting the movies side by side I enjoyed THG a bit more. It could be because of having to watch Divergent FIVE times already because of my little sister (her favorite movie) haha. I do think that, like you said, the story of Divergent is way better! Great review, Rissi...I really loved reading this one!

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    1. If this adaptation was any indication, Bekah, I'm going to like these stories better than THG as well. I mean I did like 'Catching Fire' (movie) better than the book/movie for The Hunger Games, but still... there was always something about it that just didn't "click" for me. Fun! When a movie is this good, it's a must to rewatch several times, and that'll be how Divergent is for me, too. :)

      Thank you - as always - for reading and participating in the conversation, Bekah; always enjoy your perspective. :)

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  9. Great review (as always), Rissi! I too enjoyed this movie and I'm looking forward to the next ones, even though I know my heart'll be wrecked in the end. :( Better than THG in my opinion, too.

    This line, though? "The writing is far more fragile and emotionally vested than anything else I’ve seen of dystopian."
    Sums. it. up. :)

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    1. Same here, Rachelle. I've not read the books, but nosy-spoiler-girl that I am, I did read how it all ends and I'm really sad about it. Hasn't hampered my excitement for the movie (or books). Yet. :) Ditto. Much better than THG.

      Thanks! I REALLY appreciate you stopping in, Rachelle and commenting - it's always lovely to have you visit. :)

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  10. I never read the book, but I really liked the movie. I liked how it does remind you of the Hunger Games, but it's still different. It is quiet, like you said, but that leaves more time for character development. I really like stories that take on the aspect of individuality, and show how dangerous it is when a culture strays from that. It's a very important thing we have, and to lose it means to lose yourself. The story of Divergent shows this to be true. :)

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    1. I agree; great observations, Lizzy - well said about maintaining our individuality. There is a lot of good to be gleaned from this story in my opinion, this is something that THG didn't always capture. The character development seems wonderful in the movie... just everything about the production is memorable! That alone made me curious to read the books.

      Thanks for stopping in, Lizzy! Good to see you over here. :)

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  11. I enjoyed reading your review, Rissi! I too watched Divergent before I read the book, and I actually liked the movie better, overall. I didn't find Roth to be a very good author, she tended to use the same words and phrases, particularly describing Tris, so the images I got in my head were caricatures of the features that she focused on instead of normal human appearance, it was weird... but maybe that's just my brain. ;) I thought Shailene Woodley gave Tris a much more well-rounded character than she had in the book. I got a very vague sense of who Tris was supposed to be, so even though she's generally a more likable character than Katniss, I think Collins is the more talented author (I liked the Hunger Games trilogy much better overall). Also, Tris's character flattened a lot as the series progressed (I think Roth lost interest in her and started fixating on Four, because her new series is all about him, I think), and the second and third books in general were even more poorly written, and I don't think Roth actually knew where she was going with the series plot. I do enjoy this dystopian fiction surge! I read The Giver today (actually written in 1993) and The Maze Runner is on my to-read list also. I'll be interested to hear what you think of Divergent once you read the book! =D

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    1. Hi, Lizzie. How lovely to see your name over here. :)

      Hmm... sounds interesting. I'll be curious to see if I have similar thoughts as I do often pick up on repeated information (maybe that's because it's something I constantly struggle with in my own writing). As of now, I definitely like Tris better than Katiniss, which of course, is thanks to Shailene's acting - now I'm all the more eager to read the book and see how it shapes up. That's interesting that you felt like Roth lost interest in Tris - that is so not cool. If you're going to create a character that has to be relevant for multiple books, you have to allow change and growth I feel like - it's never good for a character to stay the same or to fade away.

      Ooo! I'm interested in The Giver because of the movie and have also loved the Christian authors who tackled this dystopian genre - and thanks! I look forward to reading and reviewing Divergent.

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  12. Yay! I loved this one too and I did read the book. It is so very rare for me to really like a movie when this is the case, so I was pleasantly surprised. I liked that there was less blatant violence in the movie than the book and that the acting was really good and I got to watch Four (the actor played him marvelously). I thought it was very well done. This is only the second series where I have actually liked the theatrical renditions. Hunger Games is the other (I actually like the movies much more than the books because they are much shorter and less descriptive in violence).

    A friend and I were saying that if they could re-write the ending in the third book (Allegiant) to one I like for the movie (sorry Veronica Roth) than we would purchase these movies for sure. We're going to be waiting on the outcome...

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

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    1. Wonderful! I'm so pleased you liked this as a book lover, Tressa. I thought it was marvelous and despite it's slower pace, I was never bored, which was fantastic. I'm definitely going to enjoy reading the books - or at least, I hope too. Ditto. Much bigger fan of the films for THG vs. the book.

      The actor who played Four was awesome! Of course, it helped that the romance worked so much better in this story vs. it's competition.

      Yes! I am hoping writer's wise up and realize that how Veronica ended the stories could be much better - note to the screen writers: you have been handed an opportunity!

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  13. I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. There were a few certain things that I would have liked to see done differently, but for the most part, it was good. I have only seen it once, but would definitely like to see it again. I love the book very much more, though...and yes, I am quite dismayed at the fact that you didn't read it before watching the film!!

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    1. LOL, I knew there had to be someone who'd be "mad" I hadn't read the book first. ;) I intended too, Raquel, but honestly I didn't want to wait that long to see the film because it was going to be a while before I could get to the book. Needless to say, it'll have to be a priority this fall. *crosses fingers*

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  14. I adored the book! Loved the movie. Hoping to finish the last book in the series, soon. :)

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    1. I'm so glad, Heather. Hope you enjoy the final book - and yay for shared movie love. :)

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