A Highly Scientific Review of the Divergent movie

Pretty much you can sum up my overall feelings like this:

mind blown

The Score

Hans Zimmer did the score in collaboration with Junkie XL, and so I knew it was going to be good. It wasn’t just good. It BLEW MY FREAKIN MIND. I’m a huge nerd for film scores and this one did everything it was supposed to do. It underlined the emotions perfectly. It was just enough electronic and just enough ‘traditional’ instrumental. The heartbeats when Tris is Choosing, the sorrow when Natalie dies. The moment when the new Dauntless initiates get hoisted up on everyone’s shoulders literally had me in tears. It captured that feeling when you have no clue what is going to happen next but just for this one moment you feel completely happy and free and yourself and you can see Tris feeling that and you can FEEL THAT WITH HER because the music brings it out of you.

The mix of soundtrack (songs by current artists) and score (music written just for the movie) was brilliant. The score was matched perfectly with the feel of the soundtrack music so there was no bumpy starting and stopping between gear shifts (I fucking hate when that happens). It smoothly fit in with the modern but sort of edgy but also sweepingly epic line that the whole movie walked. It got my blood pumping through the action, but also knew when to pull back, when to counter the frenzy of the visuals with calm, long lines. I literally downloaded both the soundtrack and score the minute I got home.

Visuals

Stunning. Just stunning. Even knowing that Tris and Christina make it across the jump, that there is a net at the bottom of the cavern, that Tris doesn’t get thrown into the pit I found myself physically willing them to safety. The colors. The epic feel! I have no educated or informed vocabulary for this except that I know good cinematography when I see it and this was it.

Chicago

A brief history: I lived in Chicago for two years right out of high school. It is the first place I ever felt like myself. Then I left because of reasons and now I’m back. And in some ways the past 10 years feel like a journey to the self that was always waiting for me here. It’s the only place that’s ever really felt like home to me. The only place I really feel like me.

So reading the books was great because I could visualize all the places. And then seeing it on screen—Chicago but not Chicago but still Chicago- was wonderful.

Changes

There weren’t many of what I would classify RUHL BIG changes though I’m sure some would disagree with me. I was happy that it stayed pretty true to the book. There were things missing, of course, which there always are in film adaptations, but honestly the only glaring omission I missed while watching (others have occurred to me later) was Edward getting his eye poked out by Peter and Myra and Edward leaving the initiation process if only because they pop up later in the factionless, and that act makes Peter an even bigger monster than he appeared in the movie.

As far as changes… my big beef is that I was disappointed that they changed the Capture the Flag ending so that Tris got the flag when in the book it’s Christina. It’s another example of Tris being selfless but it bites her in the ass, and shows Christina’s competitive side. I also miss Natalie’s charge to certain death, though I still CRIED LIKE A FUCKING INFANT WITH AN EAR INFECTION but more on Natalie’s general badassery later.

And the ending… I couldn’t quite remember what the difference was until I got home and looked it up but I knew something was off. They added Jeanine in for a direct confrontation when in the book it was just Tris and Four. I didn’t mind more Kate Winslet, and they kept how Tris got through to Four by turning the gun on herself so I thought it was just fine. There were other changes of course. They changed the way the fear landscapes worked a little bit, they left out the parent visitation day, changed Tris’s final fear to rape* rather than intimacy and I’m sure other things I’m forgetting right now but they translated the point of these scenes in other ways so I don’t mind.

Feelings about characters

Natalie

What a total and complete badass!! Also knowing what we learn about her in Allegiant made me love her even more. I just love her. I love her so hard. I love how she sees Tris for who she is from the very beginning—not just Divergent but who she is at heart – and quietly supports her every way she is allowed to. How she fearlessly gives her life for Tris. She is brave and selfless in the best ways. Just… Love.

Jeanine

I think Winslet’s Jeanine is actually more interesting than the Jeanine we meet in the book… though the book is entirely through Tris’s eyes and movies have a wider lens so that is a thing. Movie Jeanine is more of a zealot. She honestly believes she is doing the right thing. The best villains are like that I think. She wants power for power’s sake also for sure, but the added stuff about human nature being inherently destructive is… kinda true… and while she’s obvi the villain and we don’t like her, she is complex and cool and KATE WINSLET COME ON!!

Christina

One of the many things I love about these books is the friendship that exists between Tris and Christina. Girl friendships that aren’t about the boys around them are stupidly rare and I’m always happy to see one. Their relationship was simplified in the movie because of time, and that is another change that while I totally understand I do miss. I love that their relationship is complicated. They’re in competition with each other and as a survivor of music school where you are CONSTANTLY competing against your friends I know how hard that is.

Four

I mean… first off… even I’m attracted to movie Four, and I’m… you know… gay. But also I love how clearly we see that what Four loves most about Tris is her strength. Her strength of character, of mind, of heart. How she stands up for people. How she won’t give up. How smart she is. When she’s running to get on the train and he holds out a hand, she says, “I got it,” and he answers, “I know.” He knows she is totally capable on her own. He doesn’t want to save her. He wants to be her partner. And. I. FUCKING. LOVE. THAT. And that moment when he seriously thinks about not helping Marcus get on the train, but then he does because he has to. Because he is selfless. Because he is better than Marcus. It was everything in a single sigh and I loooooved it.

Tris

Y’all I had forgotten how much I love Tris. She is so real. She is smart. She is brave. She is selfless. She is kind. She is honest. And these things all conflict with each other and sometimes one thing has to overrule another and that tears her apart. And Shailene Woodly just completely nailed it.

Peter: “Why should I tell you, it’s not like you’re going to shoot me.”

Tris: “Why do people keep saying that?”

* shoots him *

Fuck yeah girl!! You go!

Shailene Woodley, y’all—she is awesome. She made me laugh out loud. Made me cry…out loud. Made me fall in love with Tris all over again when I had forgotten a tiny bit how much I love her.

Freedom

I wrote about some of this in my thoughts about Allegiant, but I was a little taken back at how strongly I identified with Tris. That smile she smiles when she’s leaving the Choosing and starts running with the Dauntless. I’ve smiled that smile. I’ve felt that way. The feeling of having been confined my whole life, trying so hard to fit a mold that I’ll never squeeze myself into and then being set free. That feeling of freedom. I felt it. I feel it. It’s wonderful. But I also identify with Tris having moments where she feels she doesn’t deserve that joy.

As she was Choosing, I remembered something that happened to me a few years ago. I was talking to a family friend, my “uncle” who has been best friends with my father their whole lives. He hadn’t gotten my coming out memo and we talked about how all that was going, especially with my family. He hugged me and said, “You’re brave, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. You are so brave.”

While Tris was choosing, the words from the book echoed in my head and mixed with those of my uncle: “I am selfish. I am brave.”

We all reach that point where we have to Choose. We all eventually have to start down a path on our own and in the process we are probably going to do something that our parents don’t like. We choose a major our parents don’t want. We move to a different city. For me, I left the religion I was raised in and then came out as a lesbian. I drink alcohol. I swear. I have sex. I took a very different path in life than the one my parents would have chosen for me. It was brave. An “ordinary act of bravery” as Dauntless is sworn to uphold. And it was also selfish. And sometimes being selfish is okay. But it’s hard to know when it is and when it isn’t. The struggle with selfishness, selflessness and bravery is the aspect of this trilogy that interests me the most and is something I’ve never seen examined in any other book. It’s a universal struggle. And that is what I love to see in books.

I loved this movie. A Lot. More than The Hunger Games and that is saaaaying something because Jennifer Lawrence is my spirit animal.

What are your thoughts? Love to hear them!

 

 

*There is a lot of discussion online about Tris and the rape part of her fear landscape. It is all great discussion and I’m glad it is happening but I don’t want to wade too far into it because of reasons. Suffice it to say that I think that ALL reactions to this part of the movie/book are valid and important to the conversation. I, personally, didn’t have an adverse reaction to this scene I think mostly because we are so far inside Tris’s head that we are seeing the whole thing from her perspective. I was happy to see Tris kick her attacker in the junk. There are implications and subtle messages yes, but I, personally, in this particular case am more interested in many of the other messages, conflicts and existential questions presented in the book/movie.

 

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