Sunday, August 3, 2014

Divergent (2014) * *

I wasn't sure if I wanted to watch this movie. The book is on my "never read" list, mostly because I heard it has a lot of romance in it with insta-love, which I can't abide. I was afraid that the movie would be like that as well. However, I have had a movie change my mind about reading the book, twice actually. Therefore, I decided to give this one a shot.

I've heard the story compared to The Hunger Games more times than I can remember. Funny thing was that it reminded me of a whole lot of other dystopian novels, and even some non-dystopian ones, but not The Hunger Games.
The factions remind me more of the houses in Harry Potter. Especially because the houses seemed to stay with them even after they left them. The difference is that Hufflepuff is divided up into three aspects of the Hufflepuff mentality, which in a way doesn't make sense, but it does if you think in the terms of jobs. The only people we're missing are the Slytherins.
The problem with factions and houses is that no one fits only into one category. You may be more like one, you may want to be more like one, but no one can be defined by just one trait. Houses have been criticized because of this, but people eventually leave school, though the house they were in remain as a part of their identity. Factions you can't leave, therefore they are worse.

The world building really doesn't make sense in some ways. I'm not sure if it's better explained in the books, but there are definite holes. So my questions within the first 10 minutes of the movie were:

  • What is the wall for?
  • What is the rest of the world like, and why isn't anyone trying to find out?
  • Why are there still so many houses with holes in them? Shouldn't they have been repaired by now or torn down?
  • How long ago was this war thing, and what are the general facts about it?
  • What are the Gryffindors, sorry, Dauntless protecting people from? It feels more like they're trying to control the people who like to climb on walls for no apparent reason, and don't know that there are mountains in the world.
  • Later, one thing that I didn't get in the last 40 minutes of the movie was Tris' mother. Was it better explained in the books? The movie made no sense.

The beginning was actually quite good. While the world wasn't established well, the personality and life of Tris was. Then it got boring really fast. The whole training, the drug induced illusions reminded me of Ender's Game. I was equally bored there as well. Good thing that this time I had cooking lunch to occupy the 90% of my mind the movie wasn't engaging. Things only started to pick up an hour and a half into the movie.
Some aspects also reminded me of 1984. While the threat from outside wasn't specific, it's not unlike the war in 1984, which I always thought didn't actually exist. Also the whole drug thing, that I won't spoil further.

The ending itself was kind of anti-climatic and annoying. I am half tempted to pick up the second book just to see where they go from here, but I was so bored for most of the movie, the jury is still out on that.

I almost forgot to write about the actors and the characters. That in itself speaks volumes. While Tris was well established, I didn't find her someone I could cheer on. I'm not sure if it was the actress, or just the character. Shailene Woodley I've never seen in a movie before, therefore I would not be able to judge her acting. However, as Tris she just didn't feel much engaged in the whole story. It felt more like she was stumbling from one event to the other. Her smiles felt lukewarm. Kind of like Kristen Stewart, which is not a good thing. However, it could just have been a bad director, or the story itself. I would need to see her in other things as well to see if I like her as an actress.
Theo James is hot for sure. If he was my instructor I would have wanted to get into his pants too. But love? I didn't feel the love connection between the characters. I generally don't like mushy romance, but a bit of building up would have been nice. The character of Four didn't feel well-rounded either. He was more like the convenient guy that can be the love interest.

Are the books coming off my "never read" list? Not sure at this point. I may find my curious nature not being able to let go of wanting to know how this thing ends. This is partly why I tend to go for finished series. I hate waiting.
The movie itself gets two stars for interesting beginning, boring long middle, kind of picking up ending.

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