Tag Archives: divergent

Divergent Trailer Is Not Very Divergent

I have become so disillusioned with this series.  I was really into it at first, and I wanted it to become huge partly because I was so “in” from the beginning, but the sequel books didn’t really live up to the promise of the first installment, and although I didn’t hate the last book, (Allegiant), it wasn’t exactly as good as I had been hoping.

Meanwhile, I can’t get excited about this movie adaptation.  Everything about the way they’ve marketed it so far screams “conformity to stereotypical Hollywood tropes and generic YA action movie themes that are the SAME as so many other things!”, which is so ironic given that they’ve simplified the storyline into “Tris is the hero because she’s DIFFERENT!”  Like, look at this poster:

Really, guys, a butt shot?

Really, guys? Really?

This poster makes me absolutely rage.  WHAT IS THIS BUTT POSE AND CAN WE STOP MAKING IT A THING THAT WOMEN DO IN  ACTION MOVIE POSTERS PLEASE!???!!  And other than the birds and the Ferris wheel in the background, what about this poster is actually specific to this story as opposed to almost anything else?  (Hint: nothing).  Then there are the character posters that apparently you don’t get if your character is not in the Dauntless faction because they’re all about “guys, look tattooooos! Doesn’t this make our movie look badass (and one-dimensional?!) Never mind that the original story was partially about struggling with multiple virtues and which one if any should be most highly valued; TATTOOOOOOS!”

So now we have our first official trailer, and it has done nothing to lift my curmudgeonly spirits about this movie:

Theo James is definitely too old to be playing Four.  His American accent is not consistent.  Shailene Woodley as Abnegation Tris is wearing TOO MUCH MAKE-UP!  Yes I know it’s a movie but they didn’t have to go overboard obvious with the mascara and eyeliner before she’s even transferred to Dauntless.  I still don’t like the over-stylization of Four’s back tattoos.

OKAY FINE, I will not be a 100% Negative Nancy, there are some good moments in this trailer.   Like when the Dauntless jump joyously off the train at 0:28, and the fear landscape drowning scene from 0:46-0:55, (although in this cut it looks like it’s the aptitude test), Tris jumping off the roof at 1:15, Four’s intense stare in the knife-throwing scene at 1:39.

If anything, the disappointing path the Divergent movie marketing has taken just makes me more impressed with Catching Fire which has been consistently killing it.  Well, internet, am I the only Initiate not jazzed about this trailer?  What did you think of it?

 

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I Suppose I Have To Blog About This Divergent Trailer Now

With every new piece of news, image, or interview related to the upcoming Divergent film adaptation of the book by Veronica Roth, I feel I’ve become more and more disillusioned with the whole thing.  I haven’t been blogging about it much, because it feels mean and unproductive to post public rants about all the things that annoy me about the lead actress, but I assure you I’ve paid attention to the set photos, tweets, tumbls, everything.  For a while I worried that maybe I was getting too old to appreciate the Young Adult genre anymore, but my excitement over the Catching Fire trailer and my enjoyment of the Mortal Instruments movie stilled those fears.  I don’t think it’s me; I think this adaptation is subpar.  Watch the trailer for yourself:

Well, first of all, even though I was originally excited about his casting, Theo James is too old to play Four.  And it’s totally apparent in this trailer.  In an interview at Comic-Con, Shailene Woodley reportedly said:

Theo James who plays the love interest in my film is 28, in the book his character is 18, but in the movie we’re making him about 24/25. He’s kind of ageless in a way. And even though in the book Tris is about 16, we never allude to the fact that she’s that young.

I am not okay with this.  I don’t see how it will be possible not to “allude” to Tris’s age when the choosing ceremony that starts off the plot happens when citizens are 16.  If they’re deciding Four is 24, he’s 8 years older than her and a creepy pervert for getting into a relationship with her, as opposed to book-Four who is only a year or two older than Tris.  I don’t want to watch a man with giant muscle-arms punch people and kiss a young girl.  I wanted to watch two teenagers, tougher than their bodies appeared, face difficult decisions and get butterflies when their hands touched.

Second, Tris is wearing way too much make-up.  I suppose they’re projecting Christina’s makeover to last for the entirety of Tris’s Dauntless days, but the scene at the end where she looks up with eyes rimmed in black irritated me because Abnegation-born Tris just wouldn’t smear that stuff on to go to a training session.  But I’ve seen nothing from this movie so far about Tris being Abnegation-born other than “she wears frumpy gray clothes and a bun at the beginning!”  It’s too intent on selling me Tris as a badass Dauntless to remember she has aptitude for multiple factions and that’s why she’s Divergent in the first place.

Thirdly, why did they feel the need to embellish Four’s back tattoos with these totally unnecessary and meaningless bands on the sides?  Is it because the costume designer wanted an extra outlet for their personal creativity?  Is it because movie makers insist on visualizing characters differently from how they’re described in the books so that no pre-existing fanart or cosplay will be legitimized and fans will be more inclined to just buy the official replica merchandise they’ll be sure to market soon?  (That’s what it feels like.) I just don’t see any reason for all that extra ink.  Each of Four and Tris’s tattoos in the book are chosen with significance; they’re not in it for the body art.  And what would have been so difficult about doing it like the book said, and like the fanart bellow illustrates?

Tris runs her fingers down Four's faction symbol back tattoos in the Divergent trailer.

Tris runs her fingers down Four’s faction symbol back tattoos in the Divergent trailer.

Four's tattoos, by tumblr user ice-ridden (source). She's got a lot of really great art

Four’s tattoos, by tumblr user chrysalisgrey (formerly ice-ridden).

I’m not making these grievances up out of thin air; I feel like they’re legitimate concerns. But the reason these flaws are so frustrating to me is that I really connected with the book.  I identified with Tris, as someone who grew up in a very conservatively-dressing, emphasis-on-serving-others household but never felt like I was naturally good at the selflessness I was supposed to be enacting.  When Tris self-consciously noted, taking off her jacket before her jump into the Dauntless hole, that it was the first time anyone had seen her in anything as revealing as her tight t-shirt, I vividly remembered the first times I wore a spaghetti strap shirt or a two piece swimsuit, in college after I had moved out and my parents couldn’t enforce their dress code anymore.

In the book, I loved the idea of asking what the value of virtues like honesty versus bravery or harmony is.  As I’ve written previously, I loved the straightforward way that Tris and Four’s relationship develops.  I loved the Dauntless manifesto’s assertions that “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” and “We do not believe that we should be allowed to stand idly by.”  I loved that Four embraced the value of all faction virtues.  I loved that Four said “I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different.”  I loved that sacrificing oneself for another was a repeated theme.  I loved that Tris chose to get a tattoo of not only her chosen Dauntless but also her family heritage Abengation symbol, to recognize the value in where she came from, to acknowledge that while it wasn’t her choice to live within that strict code, she didn’t reject it entirely.  I felt I could relate to that, too.

I don’t see any of what I liked about the book in this trailer. I see an attempt to market this as an ACTION MOVIE with FIGHTING and GUNS and DANGER OF BEING KILLED.  Yes, it’s true that in the book, Jeanine is attempting to eliminate all Divergents, that others exposed as Divergent have been killed, and that if Tris’s condition is revealed she would be targeted as well.  But that’s not what the story is about.  At least not to me.

The best thing about the trailer is Kate Winselt’s villain (Jeanine Matthews), and that role is clearly being fleshed out more than it exists in Tris’s narration.  But Four is too old.  Tris is too defiant.  (And ugh, this is nit-picking because I know this language use is common, so it’s fine, whatever, but it’s really irritating that she spits out “don’t try and define me!” instead of “don’t try to define me!”).

Ugh.  I don’t know.  Maybe I am really just an old curmudgeon these days.  What do you think?

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In Which I Am A Super Picky Fangirl (Divergent Style)

Entertainment Weekly has revealed this week’s cover, which features Shailene Woodley and Theo James as Tris and Four from the upcoming film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Divergent.

I don’t love it.

But let’s start with the positives: the background is fantastic.  A dystopic Chicago skyline, just like the American book covers have featured.  I’m glad that Four is included and it isn’t just narrator Tris, the way Katniss appeared solo in EW’s first look at The Hunger Games.  Thank goodness Tris isn’t portrayed wearing nail polish, because she wouldn’t.  It’s good that the title word is featured boldy, and I like that the font and color remind me of the way it appears on the book cover.  And the text on the left promises we’re about to get more pictures from the set, which will be great.

However.  I hate the total lack of connection between Four and Tris in this pose.  Did they even take this picture together, or where they photoshopped into the same frame?!  They have Tris, whose casting I’m still iffy about, giving us a steely stare in an effort to convince us she’s so tough and Dauntless but they deprive us of Four’s eyes which, lets face it, is what we really want to see.  And not only is he looking away from the camera, he’s looking away from Tris!  There’s nothing about their body language that hints they’re going to be a couple, except the fact that they’re on a magazine cover together.  This glimpse of Four is basically the same as the one other picture revealed so far, except we see a piece of his Dauntless logo back tattoo curling up around his neck on both sides instead of just one.  This is the best view we’ve gotten so far of Tris’s raven tattoos, and while I think they’re okay I’m disappointed at the direction they’re flying.  She gets the ravens to commemorate the family members she leaves behind when she chooses the Dauntless faction, along her collarbone because it’s close to her heart.  I can’t remember if the text specifics the direction of their flight or not, but I always imagined them going towards her heart, not away from it.  Flying away from her heart makes the whole thing sadder and more pessimistic, like they’re getting further away from her even as she tries to hold them close.  I realize that’s an extremely nit-picky criticism, but while I’m at it, Four’s hair looks like it’s thinning on top.  And speaking of hair, why does it look like Tris is wearing a wig?  Was her hairline photoshopped to be a little too perfect?  And I don’t like her pants.  Why do movies always feel the need to make costumes different from regular clothes, when the setting doesn’t require it?  I guess costume designers need something to do.  But the Dauntless initiates don’t walk around with knives in their over-pocketed pants.  And these pants are almost gray, but she should be wearing all black.  So the shirt is the wrong color too.

In conclusion, I am a curmudgeonly old fan of the young adult genre and I will never be satisfied.  Unless maybe one of the photos inside the magazine is a really awesome one of Four; then I might forget all the negatives and swoon over its perfect capturing of his good looks plus self-determined resolve plus sensitivity.  No pressure, Theo James.

**update**

There are some more pictures up now on EW’s website, but I’m not really feeling any more optimistic about them.   The one I’m including below has got to be the derp-iest running ever from both of them.

Herp derp derp, getting of the train at Dertlers

Ermagerhd, Derntlerss!

Furthermore, one of the scan of the inside pages of the magazine circulating on tumblr shows that EW has chosen to caption an image from the scene where Tris is molested and nearly killed as “FRENEMIES: Excelling at Dauntless training can be dangerous, as Tris learns when her fellow initiates become jealous and attack her.”  As I vehemently pointed out in a post on tumblr that has over 100 notes of agreement, “frenemy” is a completely inappropriate word to use to describe a scene where three people, two of them antagonists against Tris from day one, make a pre-meditated attempt to throw her over a bridge to her death.  And grope her chest while she’s dangling over the bridge.  This does not fall under the definition of “frenemy.”

Just terrible

Worst, most tone-deaf moment in Divergent movie marketing so far.

Finally, my instinct about the direction of the bird tattoos was correct.  While it’s not really a huge deal, I don’t see what they’ve gained by changing it.  It had more meaning as written, and pretty much all the fanart I’ve reblogged on divergentfanart has drawn the bird tattoos flying the way they’re described in the book:

But I understand now what Tori said about her tattoos representing a fear she overcame–a reminder of where she was, as well as a reminder of where she is now.  Maybe there is a way to honor my old life as I embrace my new one.

“Yes,” I say.  “Three of these flying birds.”

I touche my collarbone, marking the path of their flight–toward my heart.  One for each member of the family I left behind.

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Divergent Casting

I know I’m way late to the game with this post about my reaction to the castings for the Divergent movie, since they’ve already been filming for about a month now.  And I’m behind in general on this blog–sorry!  Part of the reason is that I hate to post sub-par content, so when I don’t have time to really polish and fully research a topic, it lingers in draft-land for ages.  The other reason is that I did a half-marathon (my first!) this spring and training for that took up a lot of time that might have otherwise been spent writing.  Also I’m lazy and I don’t get paid for this blog so sometimes I choose to watch netflix instead.  But still, I’m sorry I dropped out of action for awhile there and I’ll try to finish more of my lingering drafts soon and get them posted.

So, Shailene Woodley has been cast as the books’ narrator, Beatrice “Tris” Prior.  I am “meh” about this casting; Shailene seems to be landing roles all over the place lately, so I’m sure she must be talented. I just haven’t seen much of her work, and I don’t really get a Tris vibe from her at all, maybe partly because I know she’s a hollywood actress who has been on lots of red carpets and at the oscars and stuff, which doesn’t match one of the things I related to about Tris’s background of being raised in a strict, selfless, conservative environment.  But I know it’s a movie and good acting means you don’t have to be like the character in real life, so I’ll wait for the movie to come out and hope she surprises me.

The first official image released for the movie featured Tris in the knife-throwing scene found in chapter13 of Divergent.  The scene has also been re-written from Four's perspective, in the novella Free Four.

The first official image released for the movie featured Tris in the knife-throwing scene found in chapter13 of Divergent. Veronica Roth has also released a re-written version of this scene, told from Four’s perspective, titled Free Four. You can read it online or download it to kindle.

Ansel Elgort, who is playing Tris’s brother Caleb in this film (but will also star with Shailene as the Augustus Waters to her Hazel Grace in The Fault in our Stars) tweeted a picture of the Prior Family the other day, with Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn as their parents.  I think they do look like they could be related.  I hope the actors are able to make me feel as strongly about their…I’ll juts say “choices of actions”, to avoid anything to spoilery–at the end of the first book.

One of the castings that I am most excited about is Kate Winslet in the role of villainous Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews.   I think she will be a fantastic adversary for Tris, and I just hope the script allows her to have subtle complexities so she’s not a one-dimensional power-hungry monster.  I think Kate Winslet is a good enough actress to be able to portray that in Jeanine’s mind, what she’s doing is for the collective good.

A fan-made edit of Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews, from tumblr. Unsure of the original source post.

A fan-made edit of Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews, from tumblr. Source for image.

Maggie Q displaying Dauntless atitude as Nikita on the CW show.

Maggie Q displaying Dauntless atitude as Nikita on the CW show.

Another casting decision for this movie that could not be more perfect is Maggie Q as Dauntless faction member Tori.  She administers Tris’s aptitude test, inks Tris’s tattoos, and warns her to keep her Divergence a secret.  This casting is great for two reasons; one, if you’ve seen even a single episode of Nikita you know Maggie Q can totally pull off the Dauntless wear-black-shoot-guns-do-reckless-stuff attitude.

Second, her inclusion (and that of Zoe Kravitz as Tris’s friend, fellow Dauntless initiate Christina), means that the character diversity in the books is not being completely erased in the translation to film.

Someone asked Divergent author Veronica Roth about this before the movie was announced (click “source” to see her complete answer, as  I’ve only included part of it here):

If the series ever gets turned into a movie, would you insist that the POC characters (biracial tobias, asian tori, and black christina, for example) are played by POC actors/actresses?

I really hate whitewashing. I really do. It’s VERY important to me that it not happen. And I have communicated that already, and will continue to communicate it as clearly as possible (even via interpretive dance or sternly worded limericks, if necessary), to the people who are involved with the Divergent movie stuff as it proceeds.

So: if the Divergent movie happens, I promise I will USE MY WORDS to the very best of my ability.

source

My only quibble with Zoe Kravitz as Christina is that it flips the size difference between her and Tris as described in the books.  Tris is supposed to be physically tiny, and often underestimated because of it, while Christina is tall and confident, but in real life Shailene Woodley is several inches taller than Zoe, who is book-Tris size.  I don’t want to get hung up on the actors’ appearance because I know that the acting is the important thing, and there are movie magic tricks that can be done, but I worry that it might change their dynamic.

I’ve saved the best for last.  One of my top literary character crushes, the badass yet sensitive Dauntless would-be leader and my, I mean, Tris’s, love interest, known as Four, will be portrayed on screen by Theo James.   I don’t have much to say about this other than I AM SO EXCITED, and fully confident that he will be amazing in this role.  I mean, just look at him!

source for image.

Is that the tip of a Dauntless-flame back tattoo curling around his neck? Also, hello biceps. Hello brooding brow and chiseled cheekbones. Please be as good as you look!  source for image

You know, my predominant emotion about Divergent being made into a film is excitement, and I think the casting of characters is pretty great, but I am a little sad that once the film is out there will likely be less original fan art like the talented pieces I’ve been collecting on my divergentfanart tumblr, since people will start to sketch scenes featuring the actors instead of  basing their drawings on their own interpretation of the description in the book.   But then, it’s hard to be sad about the prospect of being forced to re-blog pictures that look like Theo James.  I think I’ll survive.

Which Divergent casting are you most excited about?

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FourTris For The Win

I love Young Adult literature probably more than any other genre.  Dystopian YA books are my favorite favorite.  And right now, the Divergent series by Veronica Roth is the one I love the most.  (Warning: this post assumes you’ve already read Divergent and its sequel Insurgent and therefore contains spoilers for both.)

Tris and Four on the Ferris wheel, drawn by tumblr user mynameisfour (source)

Tris and Four on the Ferris wheel, drawn by tumblr user mynameisfour (source)

I like Divergent so much partly because I relate very well to Tris, not in every way but in being raised in an Abnegation-esque household, and feeling like I wasn’t very good at being selfless, and getting piercings and dying my hair purple when I moved out on my own.  (I know Tris gets tattoos, not piercings or hair dye, but both are totally Dauntless styles.)  I’m not like Tris, though, because I totally would have chosen Erudite.  But I wish that I could be Dauntless.  I love their manifesto.

I like Divergent better than Matched by Ally Condie, (but only barely, because I really really love Matched,) because I don’t see myself in Cassia as much as I do Tris, (except for Cassia’s green eyes!), and because Cassia’s struggle doesn’t really mirror my own.  Similarly, I like it more than The Hunger Games in part because its themes are more immediately relevant to my everyday life.  The Hunger Games is about war and governments and propaganda and revolution and self-sacrifice.  Divergent is kind of about societal corruption and thwarting sinister plans and revolution, but really it’s about trying to figure out what values different virtues have, and what it means to live ethically.  Is it better to be selfless, brave, honest, peaceful, or logical?  What does it mean to be selfless, brave, honest, peaceful, or logical?   I may not be living in Divergent‘s Faction-divided society or facing initiation and fear landscape simulations, but I do face interpersonal conflicts every day and must decide how to approach them.

But one of the things I like the most about Divergent is the love interest, Four, (definitely one of my forever book-boyfriends), and the fact that he and Tris have a relationship that is refreshingly free from a lot of YA cliches.

"Drunk Four" drawn by request by tumblr user badlydrawndivergent (source)

“Drunk Four” drawn by request by tumblr user badlydrawn-divergent (source)

It’s not a love triangle!  They don’t spend chapters and books hem-ing and haw-ing over whether to admit they like each other or not!  Nobody is forbidding them from being together!

Of course they have problems, have miscommunication and misunderstandings, but it doesn’t linger unnecessarily long just so there’s added tension.  They deal with it as soon as they can.  They confront each other over how they perceive the other is behaving, and then they either resolve their conflict or they break up.  They’re very straightforward.

It could be that this is in part due to the story being so action-packed, Four and Tris literally don’t have time to sit around analyzing each others’ subtle facial expressions from across the room and wondering whether or not it means they still want to hold hands later under the table, but their relationship isn’t the plot, anyway.  It’s very important, but there’s other stuff going on that’s not dependent on their status.  And I’m not saying the whole plot revolves around the love story in every other YA book; just that it’s really refreshing to read a story where “does he like me or not?” is not the protagonist’s main preoccupation, (which is ironic, because the thing I wanted to happen most when I first read Divergent was for Tris and Four to get together.)

You know, it’s not that Tris doesn’t have doubts and insecurities of “why would such an amazing guy like little ol’ me?”, but she’s honest with him about them, and he’s honest right back about why he likes her.  And then they totally kiss by the underground river.

And when everything is in turmoil, the Abnegation faction decimated and the Dauntless in disarray and their little band on the run, he reassures her:

“We’re all right, you know,” he says.  “You and me.  Okay?”

My chest aches, and I nod.

“Nothing else is all right.”  His whisper tickles my cheek.  “But we are.”

One of my favorite FourTris moments, when Tris is doped up on peace serum at the Amity compound.  Drawn by tumblr user thedauntlessavox (source)

One of my favorite FourTris moments, when Tris is doped up on peace serum at the Amity compound. Drawn by tumblr user thedauntlessavox (source)

And when they almost break up, it’s clearly communicated that it’s not because he doesn’t love her anymore.

“You’re giving me an ultimatum?”  I try to keep my voice down so others can’t hear.

He shakes his head.  “No, I’m telling you a fact.”  His lips are just a line.  “If you throw yourself into danger for no reason again, you will have become nothing more than a Dauntless adrenaline junkie looking for a hit, and I’m not going to help you do it.”  He spits the words out bitterly.  “I love Tris the Divergent, who makes decisions apart from faction loyalty, who isn’t some faction archetype.  But the Tris who’s trying as hard as she can to destroy herself…I can’t love her.”

I want to scream.  But not because I’m angry, because I’m afraid he’s right.  My hands shake and I grab the hem of my shirt to steady them.

He touches his forehead to mine and closes his eyes.  “I believe you’re still in there,” he says against my mouth.  “Come back.”

They challenge each other to become better people.  They protect each other.  They understand each other.  They love each other.

And I love that towards the end of Insurgent, when they go to his childhood home, he washes her feet and says “I’ll be your family now,” because it echoes the Abnegation initiation ceremony they both grew up expecting they might one day undergo.  They really are one of the best couples in YA lit.

Four's tattoos, by tumblr user ice-ridden (source). She's got a lot of really great art

Four’s tattoos, by tumblr user ice-ridden (source). She’s got a lot of really great art on her blog, including several other Divergent pictures.

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