30 August 2014

Divergent - Film Review

I read the book to this film a long, long time ago, and quite frankly, I like it that way. When you neglect to re-read just before you watch the film version, you tend to see it for what it is instead of nit-picking wrong or misplaced elements. I could remember the main plot but not much else, and the ending was a rather confusing jumble where I could remember how it all went down. That suited me just fine.

Divergent is a dystopian YA fiction set in a  world where people are divided into five factions, when they are a certain age, they undergo tests to discover which faction they belong in, and then they choose where they should be. Tris, out protagonist, gets inconclusive results on her test, marking her as a divergent and a threat to the way of life. She manages to place herself in the worst possible position when she opts to enter Dauntless, a free, fearless but harsh faction, where her nature could be discovered at any moment.

One thing that struck me straight away about the movie was that the explanation of the world was extremely rushed in order to get to the action, meaning that perhaps some in the audience don't fully understand the first few scenes where Tris and her brother choose other factions rather than the one they were born into. However, I don't see that as too much of an issue as you get the idea of the main factions involved as you watch the rest of the film.

Tris was acted very well by Shaliene Woodley, as her cleverness, determination and general kick-ass attitude shone through. Her range of emotions as opposed to the book weren't quite there, as in some scenes when you know Tris is terrified, she appears all too calm. A little bit of sweaty palms or twitchy fingers wouldn't have gone amiss there, though I understand that it would have been quite difficult to show her exact emotions. Four (Theo James) was pretty good too, and I think the right actor was chosen for the job sine he comes across really scary at first, and although he stays that way, his actions speak louder. The one thing that bugged me about the characters was the fact that it was very hard to differentiate between Al, Peter and ?, who all looked far too similar. Considering that Al at least was described rather differently in the book, I'd say that was a poor judgement call in order to get more good-looking boys onto the screen. Some famous faces included Kate Winslet, whose acting was fair but she didn't get much screentime, Jai Courtney, who was really cool, . while they were good, none really stuck out to me.

The depiction of the world was something that very pleasantly surprised me. everything looked extremely similar to how I envisioned it being as I was reading. Maybe the Dauntless camp could have looked a little bit more dangerous though.

As for content, the plot stayed very close to the book, and if there were any discrepancies, I never noticed. I was pleased to see one major event included that I had not expected after no-one fell to their deaths during initiation. Some elements have been left out, but honestly I felt that it lent to the overall pace of the film.

This is a very engrossing film and a really great story. It has very much spurred me on to read both Insurgent and Allegiant, which had fallen by the wayside until now. I can't wait to see what the film-makers do with the rest of the series, even though I haven't read them yet!