Today’s the day! Divergent officially is out in theaters this evening, and like any obsessed dystopian YA fan, I’ve got my tickets and I’m ready to go. (Anyone else planning on watching the movie tonight?!)
My experience with the book trilogy overall is mixed – I was a big fan of Divergent (it made my top 10 books of 2011!), not so happy with Insurgent (too much time spent on melodrama and tepid kissing, not enough time spent on the actual story), but ultimately happy with the way things ended in Allegiant (I know that’s controversial, but I loved the twists and gutsy ending).
When it comes to the film, well, I’m not exactly sure how Divergent is going to play out on screen. Some of the sneaks and previews I’ve seen look fantastic, and I’m thrilled with the casting choices. Kate Winslet is a powerful actor and I’ll watch her in anything; casting her as the Erudite power-monger Janine Matthews is brilliant. Similarly, secondary character choices of Maggie Q (YAY Maggie Q, I love you so hard!) as the Dauntless Tori, and Jai Courtney (aka Varro from Spartacus and the new Kyle Reese in the new Terminator movie) as sadistic Dauntless leader Eric, are brilliant. Also, I should mention that I’m happy to see some diversity within the main cast (Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Zoe Kravitz).
Then, there are the main characters – the duo upon whose shoulders the success of the film franchise rides. I’m also very happy with the choices here: the beautiful, charismatic Theo James as Four (he might seem a little old for Four, but I’m not really going to complain) is a great pick. Of course, the real success of the series depends on Tris – and I’m very, very happy with the empathetic acting chops of Shailene Woodley. She’s a substantive actor and has a great presence that I think will play nicely as the ruthless and calculating Beatrice Prior.
Of course… there are also the fears. Because, while I’ve been generally happy with some of the previews and sneak peeks (the extended sneak on the recent Catching Fire blu-ray release, for example), there’s also the fear of extreme cheese. The previews showing Four stripping off his shirt and throatily baring his dreams – and super secret, super fake-looking tattoos – to Tris (“I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest”) makes me nervous. The scenes showing Four apparently taking out a room of enemies with a single punch makes me nervous. Some of the training sequences and fear landscape tesitng scenes I’ve seen so far make me nervous. The fact that one of the screenwriters for that terrible Snow White and the Huntsman movie is one of the writers for this film makes me extremely nervous.
BUT… I choose to be hopeful. Because I really, really want this movie to be good.
Here are the specific things I’m hoping to see in the film adaptation of Divergent:
4. I really hope that the movie takes the time to build the world (and isn’t just a string of action sequences). I can see how Divergent could easily become a hodgepodge of pretty scenery, training sequences, and romantic interludes leading up to an incomprehensible and rushed finale. There’s a lot of action in the books, which should lend itself nicely to the screen – I just hope that isn’t all there is to the movies. I sincerely hope that the screenplay is evenhanded.
3. I want post-apocalyptic Chicago to come to life. From what I’ve seen from previews and such, this shouldn’t be a problem. I really love the rundown apocalyptic look applied to the Windy City’s iconic landmarks. (On that note, I also want the movie to capture some of the almost anarchistic joy of the books – Tris on the zipline, soaring free from the Hancock building with her fellow Dauntless. I’m excited for that scene.)
2. I want the romance to be heartfelt and believable. Is there chemistry between Shailene’s Tris and James’s Four? I hope so, otherwise the next two movies are going to get really awkward. I also hope the buildup to the romance is slow and has some authenticity – I’m uncertain on this front. (I’m not hugely confident that this is the case from the previews, but I’m trying to go into this with an open mind!)
1. I want Tris to be convincingly brave. This is the most important thing of all, because if Tris doesn’t deliver, then the whole movie (and franchise) is shot. Like I said before, I like Shailene Woodley as an actor and I think she has a great centered presence on screen. Does that translate to a young girl taking a leap into the unknown, gradually becoming a competent fighter and soldier? We shall see. I have every hope that Shailene’s Tris will succeed.
Of course I have other hopes, too! I sincerely hope the word Divergent isn’t said every 10 seconds (as it seems to be in the trailer). OK, kidding (but not really…). I sincerely hope that the secondary characters get a good deal of screen time and some meaty scenes; I hope that Winslet’s Jeanine and Courtney’s Eric aren’t written as one-note villains; I hope that the stakes (and deaths) that we see in the book show up in the film.
But that’s enough from me! Anyone else have hopes/expectations/fears about the movie?