The Divergent Movie, Prior to Reading the Book

It was okay. Nothing special.

I wanted to like it, because I want this female protagonist in an adventure/action role YA trend to continue, but it was just kind of there.

I haven’t read the book, which might have made a difference–it’s possible that there were things I didn’t know from just the movie that could have changed my entire outlook on the story, which did happen in The Hunger Games.

As it stands, it was a watchable movie, but not great. There were pieces that were really interesting, but they generally didn’t come out into the forefront. For the most part, the movie didn’t manage to engage me on an emotional level. I wasn’t bored out of my mind like during The Wolverine, and I think I’d place it close to Iron Man 3 for enjoyment value.

After the movie I looked up the ages of the main characters–Tris is 16 and Four is 18. Which, whoa. Because I spent the entire movie wondering just how big that age difference was, thinking that Four in his 30s. That changed their dynamic entirely, because a 30 year old man should not act the same way as an 18 year old when getting involved with a teenager.

And seriously, there should have been some kind of indication of how young he’s supposed to be. I couldn’t tell that he was supposed to be a teenager solely from his behavior, and talk of a leadership position is going to make me inclined to believe he’s older. Who puts 18 year olds in charge of anything?

Maybe this was part of why Four came off as kinda creepy to me, or maybe not–I can’t go back in time and give myself the knowledge that Four is supposed to be a teenager. Maybe the weirdness came from me not knowing if a new recruit and her superior are allowed to engage in a relationship, for most of the movie. Maybe the scenes were deliberately staged to be borderline creepy, I don’t know. All I know is that I was getting creepy vibes, and I didn’t like it.

I feel like some things happened with little explanation. Like, maybe the movie was trying to follow the outline of the book but didn’t have time to explain, so instead of gradually moving from point A to point B in a straight line, it just teleported us to point B. And the audience is left wondering how it happened, when all we get is one line of explanation.

Some of the things that went on in the Dauntless faction were ridiculous, but let’s face it. Watching all of them, in their matching black outfits, jump out of trains and climb buildings? Easily the coolest part of the movie.

Again, I haven’t read the book, but I’m thinking it’s possible that some of the material used for the movie works better as a narrative. Some things just work better for one type of storytelling. There were definitely some scenes that seemed to go slow, and made me want them to hurry it up–those kinds of things could easily work in a book, with good narration driving the scene. But the movie doesn’t have narration to work with.

A common criticism I’m hearing is a lack of realism in the societal system in this movie, but I would argue that that’s the nature of dystopia. While I do have a natural resistance against oversimplification–I certainly don’t agree with anyone’s ideology here, at all–I feel like the purpose of dystopia isn’t to come up with the most realistic system that could come about, but instead to use a system as a metaphor for some aspect of human nature and explore how it affects people and society.

Divergent is taking on conformity versus individualism. That’s not a bad aspect to pick, and one that’s personally important to me. This movie might not be going particularly deep, but it is possible that it raises the idea that being different isn’t bad to its audience (namely, young adults). And that’s a start.

What about you guys? Anything stand out about this movie?

*Note: This post was written before reading the book, but a follow-up post after reading the book will follow shortly. Maybe this weekend.

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