Love and war. These were the raging themes of the second book-to-film in the popular YA Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Like many superfans of the series, I was eagerly awaiting the release of the movie. Also like many others, I knew I would be vigilantly noting every detail that didn’t match up with the novel.
Although I had much noting to do, as there were several large differences between the two, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the book was brought to life.
The first movie explained that a modern day Chicago has been carved into five factional camps determined by aptitude and personality type: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. Some are Factionless. The series’s hero, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), is most rare: a multi-factional called a Divergent.
Picking up shortly where the first film, Divergent ended, Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) sends a message to every faction in the city. She says that after the war, peace seemed unattainable. Now, she feels the opposite way, and that peace can be achieved so long as they purge the city of their one enemy – the Divergents. At the same time, Jeanine’s men go to the Prior home in Abnegation and retrieve a box with a symbol of each faction on it, holding what is believed to be a message from the founders of the city. They need a Divergent to unlock it.
The Erudite have officially declared war against Abnegation now, with the help of traitor Dauntless members. Haunted by her traumatic past, Tris must constantly make choices that will change her. While running with her boyfriend Four (Theo James) and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) from Erudite, who want to find her as Jeanine has deduced Tris is the only one who can open “the box,” she and Four seek shelter in Dauntless headquarters where the rest of the Dauntless are plotting against Erudite. But Erudite threatens to kill people, including Tris’ friends, if Tris doesn’t sacrifice herself. Again, Tris must confront her inner demons and make a choice that may change everything. What she doesn’t realize is that if she sacrificed herself the world they know may change forever.
While those who love to read are almost never fully satisfied with how their beloved books are transformed onscreen, there were more than a few glaring differences this time. The most obvious one was the final ending sequence. In the movie, Tris is already imprisoned in Erudite and attempting to open the box to figure out what is inside. In the books, she actually has to infiltrate Erudite, against the wishes of the Dauntless and the factionless who want to storm in and destroy everything. In addition, Marcus (who was hardly in the movie at all, another important difference) and the former Erudite member Cara don’t play a part in the ending. Still, I was able to see a lot of the simulations that were vividly described in the book.
Also, the entire concept of “the box” didn’t even exist in the book, but it did provide a more mysterious storyline for those who didn’t read them. In the books, Jeanine studies Tris’ brain to figure out how to create a simulation that can fully control Divergents.
The best thing missing from this film, however, was the soundtrack. Divergent provided an incredible and eclectic mix of indie-pop to French electronic. I still often find myself listening to the soundtrack over a year after the first film was released. Insurgent’s soundtrack, however diverse, just didn’t match up. Part of what makes a film so enticing is the music behind it, and this time it did nothing to heighten the film’s tone.
Overall, however, the special effects and long versus short shots were able to keep those not invested in the characters interested. And the plot is able to stand alone from recent YA science-fiction counterparts, such as The Hunger Games.
While I much prefered Divergent as there were far less brutally violent fight scenes and more character development I will still be eagerly awaiting the series third and final film, Allegiant, which is slated to be released in March 2016.
Trailer link: ► 2:25