Last Friday, the film adaptation of the novel Divergent by Veronica Roth was released in cinemas in the states. It was directed by Neil Burger, who is also known for The Illusionist and Limitless.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the average critic rating is at 40% who thought it was good. I’m actually rather surprised at how low that rating is, though I can’t say that I generally trust the website for if films are good or not.
In my opinion, coming from the perspective of the book, this movie is one of the best adaptations of a book to date. Granted, I haven’t read the book in over a year, but it was pretty damn good. It follows the plot shockingly close (we all remember the Percy Jackson flop), which I haven’t seen since Harry Potter.
I’m not going to lie, there were some changes from the book. It wasn’t a carbon copy. The main difference from what I could tell was that Uriah, Marlene, and Zeke were all cut out from the film. I know that the fandom was in an uproar when this was found out, and I’m not exactly trying to defend the movie here, but speaking from personal experience I found it was difficult to keep track of the characters in the book. It would be just as difficult if not even more so to keep them straight in a movie. So in that sense, I understand the change. There is also the fact that the ending was tweaked slightly to include the fight scene and some of Tris’s fear landscapes were absent. Also, small detail, but the Erudite weren’t wearing glasses. I honestly don’t know why I remember that.
The biggest problem I had with this movie was the use of green screens. They were used multiple times in the movie and those scenes felt a little too 2005ish for my tastes (and does anyone else remember Alex Rider?).
There was a lot of hype about the lead actors – and by hype, I mean hate. Shailene Woodley and Theo James, playing Tris Prior and Four respectively, had a lot of the fandom up in an angry uproar. Shailene didn’t look “Tris” enough for the part. Theo wasn’t hot. And granted, from the stills, that seemed to be the case. But when I actually saw them in action, I was in for a shock. Their acting was perfectly spot on for the characters. Tris was timid with that adventurousness and curiosity about her. Four started off cruel and cold, only to warm up to Tris. It really was a good job on their part, and on the part of the casting crew (Venus Kanani and Mary Vernieu).
Coming from my friend, who hadn’t read the books, the movie held good entertainment value. I obviously couldn’t weigh in on this because I was so focused on similar it was to the novel. In her view, though, the film was on the long side and dragged on in places. The two hours passed without me noticing, though without already knowing the plot beforehand, I would have probably gotten a bit bored.
Overall, I would give this movie a 5 out of 5. Granted, there were imperfections, but there literally isn’t a single movie without them. I have not had this much pride in a film adaptation ever in my life. From the casting to the accuracy to the book, it was obvious that the screenplay writers and the director had actually read the book (something that is very questionable in other movies). So kudos to this movie for being one of the best of its kind (dare I say it was even better at accuracy and entertainment than Catching Fire).