Film Adaptation Review: Divergent (2014)

The novel, Divergent, by Veronica Roth was recently adapted to the big screen as the first in a series of four movies that will be released over the next few years. As expected, the movie does not compare to the novel: the novel is the better. The creators of the movie made a work that could be a success if separated from its roots. However, there have been crucial changes that will not go unnoticed. First, the creators of the film omitted quite a few important characters, who have major roles that cannot be ignored in the second and third books. It is going to be interesting to see how the writers will bring characters like Uriah, Marlene, Edward, and Lynn into the upcoming movies and how they make the story work without them. Another big change is the demeanor of each character; most of the characters in the novel are more selfish and on the violent side. For example, Peter is more vicious and nasty in Roth’s work when it comes to promoting and/or protecting himself. However, I liked the casting call to bring in Miles Teller as Peter. This actor brings more humor to the character, which may be bothersome to those loyal to the novel. Although there are violent scenes within the movie, there is not as much violence as there is in the book. The movie does not show how Peter felt the need to harm others to fight for a top spot in Dauntless, and the war-like, “sleep with one eye open” feel is not as strong. The storyline is very dark in the book. By casting Miles Teller, some comedic relief is brought the crazy fictional world, which also makes Peter more likable.

The movie also depicts the factions (each of which was devised to both hone certain character traits and keep peace among the people) as more segregated, whereas in the book, the factions live in harmony at the start; all of the children attend the same school. I will also mention that, as any true fan of the series will recognize, Beatrice (aka Tris)’s “fearscape” (a visual, life-like representation of a person’s greatest fears) does not coincide with the one she has in the novel. The last part of her fearscape, where Tris is forced to shoot a loved one, is changed from her pointing the gun at herself to actually shooting a loved one. The last difference to note is the ending, which I will not spoil for you. However, I will mention that there is a change that will certainly make the upcoming movies different.

My take on this is simple: the book is better. I was angered that some characters were omitted. The movie didn’t feel like a complete work without all of the different personalities bringing their unique insights to the story. These few changes, such as the treatment of the characters, the city, Tris’s fearscape, and even the ending, were done deliberately to make the movie its own entity. This is not the worst interpretation of the novel that I could have imagined. The city is as depicted in the novel, the action scenes are still intense enough to keep a viewer interested, the chemistry between Four and Tris is there, and the new ending begs the question, which way will the story go? But, it certainly could have been better.

Rating: 3/5

this review was written by Gabbi Battiloro.
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