Divergent Disaster: Movie based off book a disgrace to watch

One of the most popular books among students this year is Divergent by Veronica Roth. The novel and the rest of the Divergent trilogy quickly rose to fame with high school students putting the books at the top of their reading lists, and finally, the long awaited Divergent movie came out on March 21.

Book to movie franchises are always difficult. From The Hunger Games to Twilight to Harry Potter to Ender’s Game, books always create the most anticipated movies. However, they also create the most feared movies due to the possibility of screenwriters and directors ruining the book and straying from its true purpose.

As an intense reader of all of the series, I found the Divergent movie was a disgrace. There are so many flaws in the movie compared to the book that I can’t even count them. From casting to plot to technological choices, it was just awful. I went into the theater expecting to see one of my favorite books come to life in a wonderful way, and what I got was not my favorite book at all. Granted, I did not expect everything to be identical to the book, not even close. However, there were so many things changed or done wrong that I found myself to be furious throughout the movie.

The first issue was the casting of characters, mostly for their physical appearances. I understand that it is more important to focus on acting ability than physical appearance, but those who create movies should at least attempt to make actors look how they’re supposed to in the book. Shailene Woodley (Tris) was a fairly strong actress, and I think they made a good choice casting her. In reality, Tris should have been shorter, as it is made evident throughout the Divergent novel that Tris is very small, almost childlike in appearance. However, Shailene Woodley was probably the most reasonable actress to cast as Tris.

The most frustrating casting for me was probably Zoe Kravitz (Christina). The second I saw Kravitz and realized that she was Christina, I wanted to pause the whole movie and yell, “Wait, that’s Christina? No, no, no. That’s all wrong.” First of all, Kravitz is tiny. She’s incredibly short, much more so than Shailene Woodley. This is incredibly wrong because Tris should be much shorter than Christina. Secondly, Christina’s first spoken line was not strong at all and had no reflection of the tough, sassy character she’s supposed to be. As the movie went on, her character became much better, but I was still fairly disappointed with her throughout the movie.

Jai Courtney (Eric) was probably one of the best cast characters for performance. His acting was phenomenal and completely fit the harsh, brutal character of Eric. However, his appearance was completely wrong. His hair was blond and incredibly short, his face had two piercings and his appearance was neat in general. Eric is supposed to be grotesque to look at, with long, greasy, dark hair and so many piercings that it’s hard to distinguish some of his features. You might argue that an actor might not want to pierce his face all over, but come on, how hard is it on a movie set to put a bunch of fake piercings on a guy? They chose the perfect actor, but they needed to make him look right.

The second issue with this movie was character development. Summit Entertainment was obviously trying to appeal to teenage girls, as all it seemed to focus on was the romance aspect of the novel. The only relationship that seemed to matter was the one between Tris and Four. However, in the novel, all of Tris’s relationships are incredibly important, with minimal romance between Tris and Four throughout. If Summit Entertainment plans to create sequels out of this movie, I don’t know how because no background has been established into the more minor characters of the story (who, by the way, gain a lot of prominence in the book sequels). Often, Tris’s despair at the loss or betrayal of a loved one seems completely unwarranted in the movie because they show maybe only two infinitesimal moments of friendship between Tris and other characters.

Summit failed to even show important relationships between minor characters, which is crucial to plot development in the sequels. The movie doesn’t let you get to know characters like Will, Christina or Al at all, and with so many important moments in the plot involving them, it leaves a lot of gaps. In fact, the focus on romance even deteriorates Tris’s character. She is supposed to come off as a strong, inspiring heroine, but in much of the movie she appears much weaker than you’d want her to be with only small moments of strength.

The final thing that infuriated me about the Divergent movie was the deviation from the plot. Understandably, movies remove moments from the plots of books in order to make the film a reasonable time limit. However, so many crucial elements were removed in this movie that I was horrified. In fact, they changed the entire ending. The second I realized they changed it, my mouth popped open in shock. The ending is the climax of all the action and tension, with an easy segway into the next story. In the way it was done, the movie does not contain that segway at all. As for the other parts of the movie, several plot points were left out or were slightly out of order or were even changed unnecessarily. Even minor details were changed in order to make the movie look more technologically appealing, such as the rankings of initiates being written on a floating screen instead of a chalkboard or guns shooting “darts that simulate the pain of a real bullet” instead of paintballs. I’d like someone at Summit Entertainment to explain to me why these changes were necessary at all. It made me think that maybe the writers just read a summary of each chapter of the book and ignored simple details, which is really frustrating.

The movie certainly had its positive points: soundtrack, special effects and a few very strong actors. It was obvious that lots of time was spent trying to make this movie appealing to its key audience, and they certainly tried to make it flow as best as they could.

Honestly, if you haven’t read the book, the movie is a decent one to see. Had I not read the book, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it much more. However, I did read it, and what I saw when I watched the movie was incredibly disappointing for a novel that I rank highly with my favorites.

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