I feel like the directors of the movie version decided to sit down with peter Jackson before they began filming and ask him for advice on how to do a movie adaptation of a popular book. “Insurgent” the movie can be compared to “The Hobbit”, especially the third movie, which was mostly a product of Jackson’s imagination, whereas the war is not as focal as the movie made it out to be. I was really disappointed with how loose the movie adaptation of “Insurgent” was in comparison to the book. At least in “Divergent” I could tell they were trying to stick with the plot, although there were quite a few things that were cut out that I think weakened the movie. However, whereas I preferred the movie version of “Divergent” to the book, with “Insurgent” I ended up being split half in half and really struggling to make up my mind because there was a handful of problems with both versions that became impossible to ignore. As a result, the two should be viewed as two completely separate entities and people who, like me, watched the movie first and thought it would be a just adaptation of the original will find themselves unsatisfied.
Oh, where to start? I think I’ll start with Tris herself who, judging by a handful of reviews I skimmed through, many people were really infuriated with. I actually enjoyed Tris in “Insurgent” more than in the previous book, and for a number of reasons. I think the decision to portray her as a vulnerable and emotional person was a very smart choice on the author’s part. People forget that people are fragile and break down, that they can’t always be expected to be strong fighters until the end. The emotional side of Tris’ character was believable and felt natural, although I agree that at times it was slightly over-emphasized and a little too much. But as a whole she got better as a character. The romance was also toned down, which I liked, so she wasn’t the same lovesick and slightly-clingy girl that she was in “Divergent”. I felt the death of her parents weighing down on her in this book and impacting her decisions. Sure, she was a bit too much of a daredevil at times, but as a whole she was better. However I still wasn’t buying the Divergent explanation about her, which probably brings me to the biggest issue I had:
I liked the movie’s explanation/take on Divergence better. It made more sense to me that someone who is Divergent would have aptitude for every faction and would be a well-rounded person – that’s what everyone’s told in school since they’re a kid, and the modern-day educational mantra. I wasn’t buying the idea of aptitude for three factions – it sounded bizarre and made the whole concept of the faction universe begin to totter and start collapsing on itself. That’s why I like the way the movie took the plot and, in my opinion, improved it. Yes, the apparatus that calculated “percent Divergence” confused me in the logistical aspects of it, but it made more sense for Divergents to be well-rounded in every sense, some more than others. It also explained why Tris specifically ended up in the lab, whereas in the book the fact that she ends up being Jeanine’s focus was tough to wrap my head around. I was also disappointed by the way in which Jeanine decided to explain the Divergence. The science explanation killed the whole concept, in my opinion. The Tris in the movie showed with all her actions just how well-rounded she was, whereas in the book the reader gets a bunch of weird tests and scientific explanations about the brain thrown at them that makes one wonder ‘so what?’. The movie really improved the plot in that aspect, in my opinion. Sure, it had to change a lot of things in the process, but I enjoyed in more because it made the central theme of being Divergent make more sense and reach out to the viewer as you’re watching Tris go through all five factions in their respective simulations. In the book you just have a psycho woman looking for a serum.
However, where the movie altered the Divergent topic in a way that I loved more, it once again flopped when it came to showing the character aspect of the story. So many characters were cut out of the movie. My biggest issue was Uriah, who appears in the movie for two minutes and dies two minutes later just as I’m asking myself ‘who’s that kid?’. Kang’s character in the book is much stronger because it, again, stresses the concept of “faction before blood”, and Christina’s actions after finding out the truth about Will makes more sense in the book as well. Heck I don’t know how I would react if I found out my best friend killed my lover, but it would for sure begin with a considerable period of being mad at her and avoiding her. Other things, like down playing Tori’s significance or Caleb’s actions, were also frustrating because they felt like unnecessary omissions that weakened the movie and made the book stronger in that aspect.
What I enjoyed most perhaps was the way in which the book handled Tris and Four’s relationship. I loved that the reader gets to see the whole rollercoaster that comes with the plot, the fights the two go through and even the ‘close calls’ between the two. It was a real relationship and in that sense a healthy one. Everyone fights and is frustrated with their partner, and the movie didn’t do justice to that fact because it made it look like a more controlled relationship than it actually was. I loved Four’s forgiving nature, as well as those moments when Tris was frustrated with his choices. It was one of the best-written couples that I’ve seen because it didn’t try sugar coating love. It was shown, instead, in its whole turbulent and unstable nature, but also with the forgiveness and cooperation that comes out of it. In “Insurgent” I felt happy every time they hugged or kissed because it wasn’t too much.
The ending of the movie was more satisfactory. I liked the way it explained the situation better than the book, and so I’m curious in which way the story will go from here. For “Allegiant” I’ll be reading the book before seeing the movies, so it’ll be interesting to see how I react to it and how the two will compare. I think the two, the book and the movie, should be seen as companions to each other. The movie does a better job of reimagining the plot, giving it some action and breathes some life into what is well-written but still often flat prose. However it is the characters, the emotional nitty gritty details and human nature, that is the true delight of the writing because it shows all the darkness and weakness and dark underbelly of humanity in a way that the movie doesn’t even begin to look at. The two compliment and complete each other, which is why in this case I’m torn between choosing between the two.
I already had someone spoil a bit of the ending of “Allegiant” for me and after reading “Insurgent” and enjoying the way in which Tris’ character grew, I think it’s a fitting end. I’m curious to see how things will be resolved and hopefully I won’t be crying my eyes out and whipping the book across the room like my best friend was. I cannot say that the Divergent series compares to The Hunger Games in terms of the adrenaline rush, but it’s a more…poignant kind of dystopian series. The focus is different and I’m enjoying it more than I expected to.