Amazing box office release weekend for the book to movie adaptation, ‘Divergent‘! On Saturday, just after the early release date on Thursday night and Friday’s numbers, studio released the news that ‘Insurgent‘ was green lit, making it official that next year, WE WILL HAVE A PART TWO! This makes my heart so happy. After Hunger Games, the more recent YA book to movie adaptations haven’t done well enough to secure their second book adaptations, which made me worry the same could happen with Divergent. The cast will begin filming in May the second book of Veronica Roth’s NY Times Bestselling trilogy.
Author Amy Tintera of the Reboot series, tweeted the theater she went to go see ‘Divergent‘ at, was selling the trilogy! How cool is that? Provoking people to read is a mission I happily and whole-heartedly support.
Where to start? Really? My brain has so much information, thoughts, opinions and inner squealing going on, I don’t know what to talk about first. Okay, how about overall impression? Yeah, I could start there.
For a first book of a series, being adapted on film, it was really well done! The cinematography was rich and beautiful, depicting the dark elements of Dauntless (since that was the compound we spent the most time in, in the movie). This movie, I am impressed, was excellently cast. I had my hesitations about Shailene Woodley and Theo James being casted as our FourTris <~~~ship name. Wow, not only them, everyone was spot on in their character portrayal, even if their physical traits differed from the book, the essence of who that character was, they each delivered perfectly, which is rare.
The theme and message (the spirit) of the book was very well adapted. What Divergent is in the book was brought to us on film, even with the changes. When I think about most first book film adaptations, they’re usually not the best and evolve in quality, budget, talent, etc as the franchise continues–i.e. Harry Potter, Twilight, even Hunger Games.
For me, Divergent wasn’t Catching Fire awesomeness but above The Hunger Games (First movie). This weekend, Initiates came through, bringing the weekend box office numbers to $56 Million!
“Summit Entertainment’s Divergent may not have reached the heights of Twilight or The Hunger Games, but its $56 million North American box office broke the curse that has plagued every other YA film adaptation.
Launching a new franchise for Summit and parent company Lionsgate, the dystopian sci-fi adventure benefited from good word of mouth among moviegoers, who gave it an A CinemaScore despite mostly withering reviews.”
-The Hollywood Reporter announced this morning.
I loved the film, not feeling the two and a half hours, at all. If anything, I wanted more. What is hard, is going in as just a movie goer and not a fan of the book. I’ve been a fan of other books before their movie adaptations. I saw Catching Fire after reading it mere months prior to seeing it, but this was different and I think it’s because of what Divergent, the book, meant to me. I will get into that further in my next blog post. (Stay tuned)
There were things I missed or wish made it into the film but for the most part, I have processed and from a production standpoint, who are not only trying to cater to book fans, but to those who haven’t read the books or even YA for that matter, i understood their approach. As it is, they calculated 50% of movie goers from this weekend were those who haven’t read the books and just wanted to attend a kick ass action film with a “hot” guy who has a “hot” back tattoo. *laughs*
What did I like?
This may get Spoilery because I will mention correlations to the book…you have been warned. 😉
1. I thought the monologue opening up the film was a really good move. It can be a hit or miss with those but so much of this story is in Tris’ head–one–and then there’s the need to help those who don’t know the books, understand the world they just walked into. Shai portrayed the voice of Beatrice well, and I mean literal voice, as if she were narrating the audio book. She captured Tris’ emotions about the world she lives in, what she knows, thinks she understands about it in her narration.
2. I loved seeing the hair cutting scene between Beatrice and her Mom as the official first scene of the movie after the title sequence. As a fan of the book, I instantly connected, taking me back to that moment–me sitting back on my bed, opening that first page, not having a clue how much this book would mean to be, become a part of me.
3. The fashion of the five Factions? Brilliant and spot on. Their outfits were just as I saw them in my head, actually, even better, details wise.
4. Soundtrack? Um, yes! Thank you for doing it right. Loved the music tracks, loved the songs–especially Ellie Goulding stuff–been OB-sessed with it for weeks now.
5. When Tris (at the time, still Beatrice) sees the Dauntless trains arrive and the Dauntless flying out of them, rolling down a hill and then running…Oh man! My heart was pumping and my eyes might have watered–hush, don’t judge me. I knew what that moment meant to Tris, and how it was igniting something within her she didn’t dare admit out loud. She barely could admit it to herself. I love that they captured that moment for us on film. We didn’t need her inner dialogue. Shailene did well giving us subtext in her acting. *golf claps* Well done Shai!
6. Fear Landscapes: Yes! Yes, indeed. So cool, even better than I ever could imagine it in my head while reading. I found the technology for those outside who were physically witnessing initiate’s fear landscape to be interesting, and I liked it very much. I pictured the room Four and Tris would be in during fear landscape viewing/testing to be different, but I liked their interpretation of it. I loved the scene where Four is confronting her after the water tank fear landscape. I loved all FourTris scenes, let’s be honest.
7. Jeanine. Kate Winslet, I believe brought her to life. I definitely could picture Jeanine this way. She was rigid, and very Erudite in her manner and speaking–the way she would just look at you, lingering. It will be interesting to see her now that Insurgent is happening. With everything that happens in book two, let’s see how much she is allowed to bring as she is just one of the main villains in book two.
8. Aw, I should have been clever and made #4 about Four…get it? Yeah, anyway, I wasn’t ready to talk about him yet…but let’s.
FOUR ❤ Yes, let’s talk about him.
Let me make something clear here, I was never swooned by Theo James the actor. I was actually NOT happy when they cast him. Four was my ultimate YA boyfriend. This was not who I saw in my head and I screamed inside,
“No! You’ll ruin him! No!” *hands stretch out in horror, then whimpers to self* “Not my Four…”
Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic but for real, I wasn’t thrilled about the choice because, it’s just me but Theo James is not my type–physically (because remember people, we do not actually know these actors to say you like/crush on them, the actor. What we “crush” on is the role they protrayed, not them themselves. We don’t know them…AT. ALL.) So yeah, sure he’s a handsome man, I could acknowledge that, but I wouldn’t catch myself looking twice because we all have different taste. There’s something out there for everyone.
So here I was, not on the ‘drooling and swooning for Theo James the stage name actor train’ and waiting to see how I felt about him playing Four. During the movie promotion season, clips were being shared before the movie came out and I got more why they picked him. I started accepting him, believing he would capture the essence of Four…or at least I hoped.
At the Chicago premiere, EpicReads asked Veronica (I almost wrote Mars, um no, sorry) Roth what she wanted readers to walk out of this movie taking?
She said, “That Theo James nailed it as Four” (paraphrasing)
Oh. My. God. YES! I couldn’t believe it. He was Four! In every way, he captured Four. I wasn’t seeing Theo James, I saw Four and I fell more in love with him as a character. My heart swooned, and my eyes all of a sudden were very pleased with what I was seeing physically.
It’s funny, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personality truly defines a person’s beauty in different people’s eyes/minds. I could stand before an “Adonis” gorgeous, brooding man but if he’s arrogant, not compassionate or kind, violent, and purposefully out to put others down, he is instantly the ugliest person I have ever come across.
Okay, sorry, getting off my soap box. *smiles, dragging box away*
One of the besties came with me and she’s never read ‘Divergent’, isn’t a YA reader per say and as me, is not attracted to Theo James. She also is not one to swoon like a fangirl. Those are RARE, far and few between moments I get to experience from her so may I just say that I am so very proud that she has again….over FOUR!
She LOVED his character. She’s been swooning every since, setting a measuring stick to all mere mortal men who will never amount to fictional characters. *laughs loudly* I told her, if you loved his character in the movie…READ THE BOOK *winks* Another YA world domination win. *rubs hands together*
Okay, moving on from Four gushing.
9. Shailene Woodley, thanks for the surprise performance.
I was not a fan of this casting choice at first either. I only knew of her in the ABCFamily show that I was never a fan of. I was worried about her ability to bring Tris to life. Tris is a complex character, living within a complex world plot. Let me say, I am grateful for casting directors. I’m grateful to GOOD casting directors, producers and directors who do their homework and truly care about the material enough to find those appropriate for the roles.
Well done Shai. I am impressed. She truly did capture Beatrice/Tris. Man, did she bring it with the emotions. As someone who pursued Acting, inside I waved my fist at her because of how damn good she was at bringing on the tears! The tears, man! Al? Her Mom, her brother’s distance, I mean, at every moment, this girl could water up them eyes at a drop of a clapper. (The clapperboard? The slate? Slate board…film reference, never mind!)
Omygoodness, Al…my heart. When she yells at him, again them tears, and his heart breaking with regret and then…UGH! My heart flooded and I tried holding back tears. I was reading that whole segment all over again.
Her Mom, in the end. Damn, Shailene, damn. Well, done. That’s all I’m saying.
10. I too, liked the change they incorporated during Four’s fear landscape tour with Tris. They translated something that would’ve required so much more development to explain through film, but this brought on what was necessary to tell the story to non-readers. Well done Neil and crew. Good choice.
My “Meh” Thoughts: Things I wish…
1. Will and Christina/ Will and Tris.
As someone who’s read the book, I already knew, but I don’t think the dynamic of Will and Christina and what it meant for Tris to kill him came across clearly. I was surprised a little more wasn’t clearly explained about Will and Christina being together. Yeah, there was a little flirting and eluding to something maybe developing but not really. Also, there wasn’t really any Will and Tris friendship development that gave the audience clear indication that Will was one of Tris’ friends. The reason I believe this was important is because though they did show some hardship on Tris for killing him and her struggle doing so, if they’re going into Insurgent staying true to the book, that moment haunts her till the very end. She can’t even shoot a gun after that. Then, the truth serum scene in Insurgent brings on further tension. I mean, Will dying was a BIG. DEAL. For something so big in Tris’ character arc, I thought it could have used a little more development to help viewers who haven’t read the books.
2. Now, this isn’t everyone’s opinion, but I wanted more FourTris. Man, there were so many GOOD scenes and moments between them throughout the book, I wanted more of that on screen. At a production level, I get it. The story, the plot, was Erudite’s Pinky and the Brain domination scenario which makes this an action story which has certain rules for marketing. Also, Four and Tris aren’t your typical couple. They’re not ‘gushy, lovey dovey in front of other people’ type teenagers. Taking this approach with their romance makes sense to help also portray who they are as people. So even though I missed the missing pieces of dialogue from the last two pages of the book which was exactly the last scene in the movie (Well done, again) the way they wrote their romance development for this movie, Four confessing his love might have seemed out of place. Though, Tris told him she loved him when he was under the serum to try and bring him back but it worked for that intense life or death moment.
3. The Ferris Wheel scene. It was so short! *pouts* I liked the catching the flag approach. I liked eliminating the Christina tension entirely in this scene much better. I was actually mad at Christina in the book during this time. I like this way better. I loved the climbing up the Ferris Wheel and squealed out loud when Four asked if Tris was even human.
*hugs pillow* “That was in the book!”
I was just expectant of more and was surprised when it was over.
4. Yo! Where was the Dauntless cake? *giggles*
5. Okay, so at first, I wasn’t all that thrilled about the clear change in one of Tris’ fears. Her fear of intimacy turned into a fear of sexual assault. Two VERY different things. At first, I thought their translation of ‘fear of intimacy’ was to have Four aggressively try to get intimate with her, which almost looked like an almost rape scene, until Tris kicks him, setting herself free. I shrugged thinking, okay, it was probably the easiest and quickest way to demonstrate a re-written version of that fear.
I came across a popular article that has been circulating promoting the strength of women against sexual abuse. Whoa. Okay, that’s definitely a different approach I wasn’t expecting.
It’s true, this is an important subject and if Divergent has the opportunity to be a voice for a certain issue, why not use it for good, use it for this?
Personally, I think the fear of intimacy is a deep, delicate issue most don’t even know they harbor deep within, especially women. Our society has tainted and desensitized true intimacy, which is vulnerability to be seen fully, known fully–allowing yourself to be with another person. Of course, that ideal is not going to translate clearly or easily on film, especially in an action film, so I get the switching it up and standing against another cause.
“Divergent marks the first time I have ever seen a teenage girl articulate, in no uncertain terms, that her body belongs to her. That she gets to decide who touches it, and how, and when. That her yes and her no are final, and unambiguous, and worthy of respect.”
She mentions both Tris’ desiring things to be taken slow after their first and only kiss in the movie and Four respecting that. She mentions the fear landscape, where Four aggressively pins her on the mattress but Tris fights back and says ‘no’. She talks about the scene where the guys kidnapped her, beating her, about to throw off the chasm. In the book, that scene there actually did demonstrate them feeling her up inappropriately and her fear of being sexually assaulted before being murdered then Four comes and intervened. This article, I believe, bring this message into the light for this film and gave Divergent a voice. She mentions being there once and not having the courage to fight, to say no. Bravo, if this could be a mouth piece, giving teenage girls, and women, strength to stand up against their assailants.
In the end, this change is a plus but at first, I viewed as a ‘meh’. Hence it’s in this portion of the review.
And speaking of the kidnapping scene. I wish they would have made sure to mention Peter as part of that group, helping the audience understand how great of a villain he is to Tris.
All in All:
I am so proud of this movie, of the cast, the production crew, studio *claps hands* Bravo, guys! Thank you for making such a beloved book, a successful adaptation.
Is it perfect? No, but not everything can be ‘Catching Fire’. *winks* Great job! Can not wait till Insurgent…I can wait for ‘Allegiant’…I can wait forever but we won’t rehash that wound just yet. 🙂