Divergent (2014) – Non-diverging Actors: Movie Review

image credit: imdb.com

I love this movie. If it were not adapted from a book, I would still love it. But since it is indeed adapted from a book, I can’t help but compare. Nothing much is changed from the story. If there are obvious changes, I love all the modifications like what had been done for The Breaking Dawn Part II, save for some minute details.


I’d usually enjoy a movie in its own but after watching the film, some things nag in my head and they’re about the actors. Well, just let me complain in this post.

Maybe modern Americans really are racists that they try hard to avoid racism. But because the filmmakers’ evasion is so obvious, I find the movie racist (think of Disney’s measures just as not to be called racist).

Christina was described to have dark brown skin while Uriah brown. I could accept Christina being African but Uriah?! Have they forgotten the American Indians? Don’t they also have dark brown skin and dark eyes? They’re even stereotyped as red-skinned. Even most Latin Americans have varied dark brown skin. America used to be their land but where were they in this film? I can’t see one. Perque?

And because the characters are too modernized Americans, even the names are Americanized. To-bI-us, really?! Why does it need to be mispronounced? That name is supposedly pronounced as Tob-yas. Why hadn’t anyone corrected that? How could the author name her hero To-ba-yas? It’s not like Goliath [gu’lI-uth], you know?

Back to Christina. I imagined her to be looking like Adriana Lima or Ashanti. She was supposed to be willowy and I imagine her also to have such bitchy looks to match her character. But the actress is none of those. She’s too small to be Christina and looking too vulnerable. It’s hard to imagine her as tough in the film. I don’t underestimate small people (I am one myself) nor people with vulnerable looks (like some Asians) but given their background, it’s not as if they’re trained Asians who could kill with bare hands using martial arts.

Okay, I understand it's just me. I didn't expect Christina and Uriah will look like how they are portrayed in the movie.

Back to martial arts. The Dauntless need not to fight in brawl (like Manny Pacqiuao in boxing) and covered in bruises later. Asians can do the locking of the muscles, of the bones, touching some nerves to paralyze one’s opponent. All these without necessarily breaking the skin. Even if the setting is in Chicago, given that the world is dystopian, they should have info about Asian martial arts. Some of the viewers in the cinema (where I’m at) are even complaining with the stances the characters used in the arena. They look silly. The film need not follow after the book if the author has not thought of it.

Aside from being a Candor, Christina in the film can’t have a higher rank than Tris if we are to consider both the actresses’ built and the characters’ background. Shailene Woodley (as Tris) is way too tall and big-framed in comparison to Zoë Kravitz (as Christina). Christina then can’t be stronger than Tris in the first stage of initiation, which just won’t make any sense. The casting crew should have stick with a tall girl for Christina.

Okay, those are the only things I could complain of the casting. But maybe more...

What I noticed while watching the film is that so many people in the cinema would openly appreciate Tris’ beauty. They’d compliment her eyes, her hair, and even her curves. While it is annoying to hear noisy people in the cinema, I appreciate their appreciation. At least, the casting crew did well on choosing the actress for Tris.. on the physical aspect. She even has lovely voice. My only concern is that she has too much flesh. She isn’t fat but she would look better if she’s thinner (just not as thin as bony-food-deprived-looking Emily Blunt in her next film, Edge of Tomorrow). Just like the nickname of the Abnegation though, her acting is also “stiff” which kind of ruined the romantic scenes. I don’t dislike her for that, I just hope that she’d improve in the next movie.

Image courtesy: Amazon
Moreover, Theo James (as Four/Tobias) has such sexy deep voice. I wonder where the casting crew got him. This is the first time I see him in a movie. While I approve of his looks, what I noticed is that he has middle-eastern eyes, not the deep-set pair described in the book. Yet, he fit to be portraying Four. He’s a good actor in this one.

Furthermore, I approve of Ray Stevenson to be Four’s father, Marcus. He has that unnerving sharp eyes. I’m just surprised with his new looks. He’s getting fat.

This one isn’t the film crew’s fault. But the way Ansel Elgort (as Caleb) walks is just disturbing (much like Callan McAuliffe) although it is nice to be seeing more of him in great book-adapted films like the remake of Carrie and soon, The Fault in our Stars where he will be reunited with Shailene Woodley as lovers, which is pretty awkward-looking when they’re both siblings in this film.

Now that I’m done bitching about the actors, let me complain about the setting.

Maybe the filmmakers are scared filming in a real cave with a water fall inside or they’re just lazy to simulate one in CGI. The Pit was not a cave but a level-99-looking Parkour studio. Of course, they just made it appear that the Dauntless are inspired from Yamakasi.

While I don’t approve of the Dauntless’ headquarters—The Pit and the absence of the glass building, I approve of everything else. Especially the zipline. You must look forward to it. Also, I love how natural the dystopian Chicago looks in this film. Everything looks realistic if we were to become a dystopian world anytime. Kudos to the filmmakers on that part!

I also approve!

The first stage of initiation might be lacking action but towards the end, the action was such a blast. Tris and Four only has a brief fight. But in this film, they have such beautifully choreographed fight scene. It was just pure awesome! I might be complaining earlier, but Tris and Four’s scene was real martial arts and I was just awed.

Yes, all you have just read are full of complaints. But that’s only because I was so hooked with the book and am appealing to logic with the miscast of actors. Without reading the book, this is one great film in its own.

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