Divergent Movie Review

Divergent movie review, Divergent

The movie Divergent opened in theaters in March to an abundance of excited fans waiting to see the story unfold (and perhaps a little eye candy) on the big screen. Together those fans would help secure the number 1 spot for Divergent during its opening weekend. It has since been released on DVD and continues to get noticed by many fans across the world. So it’s about time that I offered up my humble opinion on this film.

Divergent, based on the best-selling YA novel by Veronica Roth, focuses on life in a dystopian society where people are divided into 5 factions: Abnegation, the selfless, community-service oriented group that maintains all political offices; Erudite, the smarties who are the scientists, computer programmers and inventors of the bunch; Amity, the peaceful farmers; Candor, the outspoken, brutally honest lawyers and judges; and Dauntless, the risk-taking and adventurous individuals who provide quasi-military protection for the community. Upon reaching the age of 16, each member of the community must choose the faction in which they will live out the rest of their lives.

Tris, the main character played by Shailene Woodley, discovers that she does not fit into one perfect category. In fact, she is what they call Divergent, exhibiting traits from several factions. Because Divergents cannot be so easily controlled or predicted, they are perceived as a danger to society, which in turn places them in danger. The story takes us on Tris’ struggle to fit into the Dauntless faction, while keeping her secret and getting closer to her mentor, Four (Theo James).

After devouring the series in 2 sittings, I was eager to see the story come to life. However, I was gravely disappointed with the results. While the movie did its best to develop the story, I fear that bad casting choices and changes to the plot may have affected the quality of the film. In the books, Tris’ character is constantly described as being small and petite. This trait enables her to strategically pull the weak, little girl card when she needs to, while also causing others to underestimate her. It’s essential to her interaction with other characters, as well as her own psyche. In contrast, Shailene Woodley is 5’8 with long legs and a definite height advantage over her character’s best friend, Christina (Zoë Kravitz), who is supposed to be the tall lanky one. This height swap alters the dynamic between these two characters losing a little bit of the book in the process.

Theo James, on the other hand, was perfectly cast for the role of Four. And I don’t think the screaming teen girls had any problem with his addition to the movie, which provided a nice amount of eye candy for the hormonal masses and adults alike. However, I did feel that the chemistry between Shailene and Theo was a bit lacking, but that could have been more of an issue with the script than their acting.

Because the script left out scenes between Tris and Four and altered others, their relationship felt rushed and a bit forced on the audience. There was no build up or evolution between the two characters. While the stoic nature of the characters is central to their story, it also does not translate well on to the big screen. In the books, you have Tris’ inner dialogue to fill in significant details such as how she is feeling and her nervousness around Four. However, there is no way to truly demonstrate this on film.

Overall, I was disappointed that the movie did not remain as close to the book as I would have liked. Altering the dynamic between characters, leaving others out, and changing scenes completely (no spoilers for you!) slightly skewed the development of the characters and the plot. I’m not quite sure where they will take the next installment of the series, but I hope it’s a much better adaptation than the first one.

Did you see the Divergent movie? What were your opinions of the film and its cast?

  • Most movies fall short of the books, right? Except for Hunger Games which I think had done a good job so far. Anyways, loved all 3 books for different reasons and I agree the movie didn’t do it justice. Definitely the relationship was rushed and I didn’t even realize Tris was cast as so tall. I definitely didn’t mind casting of Four – drool. I hope the other movies are better!

    • Haha! Four was definitely drool worthy! 😉 And I agree, most movies fall short of the books. However, I couldn’t even like this movie in its own right. I do love the Hunger Games movies though. I had hoped Divergent would do just as well.

  • Kari

    I actually didn’t mind the cast so much simply because I think Shailenne Woodley is an amazing actress and has the perfect temperament for Tris.
    I did hate the deviation from the book however. The added scenes were pointless and both altered scences and missing one really hurt the movie I think. But I did love what they did right. The cinematography was fantastic, the first jumper scene was so good and although Tris and Four were kind of insta-love in the movie, their scenes together were hot. Also the part of fight scene at the end that actually happened in the book, omg so good although heartbreaking.

    • Do you mean the scene between Tris and Four or the fight scenes leading up to that point? I do think changing the scenes hurt the movie. I understand that they were trying to give Kate Winslett a larger part, but I wish they had stayed a little bit closer to the books. I hope they do in the next one! 🙂

      • Kari

        I mean the actual scene btwn Four and Tris. Not “how” it lead to that bc that was added but rather “what” happened because that was actually in the book. It was raw and robotic just like I imagined it. The Kate Winslet added parts were so bad. The entire time I’m screaming “but this doesn’t happen! Where did you even come from?!” And for no reason bc she has a big part in Insurgent.

  • So, I read the first book and was halfway through the second when I watched the movie, and I LOVED it. Then I finished the series (hjdbgwfjzdhgfe hated the ending) and rewatched the movie recently and saw it for what it really was. shocking acting, changed some of the story, the only good thing was Four 😉

    • Oh, I hated the ending of the series, too! I had a major book hangover for a week after completing that last one. I did manage to find some awesome fan fiction that provided a much better ending, so I’m choosing to go with that one! Haha. And Four was definitely a good thing in the movie. 🙂

      • oh haha I found some fan fiction too, thank goodness – book hangover indeed! perfect term for it.

  • I really enjoyed the first two books and I hated how the series ended. The movie was a bit “meh” for me. x

    • I completely agree! I hated the ending. I know Veronica Roth thought it was essential to the complete evolution of Tris, but I don’t think it was. And as you already know, I am not a fan of the movie. 🙂