So, how does the Divergent movie, starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James, stack against the novel? Well, first things first, Divergent experts-- we must keep in mind that movies are merely adaptations. An adaptation is not supposed to be a direct replica of the original content. It'd be unfair and unrealistic to expect them to fit all 487 pages of text into a two and half hour movie, anyway. That being said, as readers and fans of the series, we want the movie to do the book justice. Although there were a few notable hiccups, I think it did.
Personally, I've always felt that this book was better suited for film. It's innately cinematic with author Veronica Roth's description of the action sequences, quick banter, and jarring scenery. Tris is a character that transforms mentally and physically, and there was merit in actually being able to see it happen. Although the beginning was admittedly slow and some scenes vital to understanding the Divergent world proved to be confusing, eventually it took to a compelling and thoughtful pace. I felt like those who read the books and those that didn't could enjoy the movie equally as much.
Below are the major points you should know about the movie vs. the book:
1. Theo James is Four.
In the book, Four is described as having, "...a square upper lip and a full lower lip. His eyes are so deep set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows..." Despite the blue eyes, James has got it down. Not to mention the fact that his stoic yet docile vibe is the perfect fit for the strong and mild Four. Also, he's so freakin' dreamy.
2. Everything is just a little too sugar coated.
The different factions got along too well, the tension in post-apocalyptic Chicago that the book repeatedly stressed was seriously lacking, even the movie causalities are a lot less and a lot less gruesome. No one even fell from the train! Imagine that.
3. Everyone is just a little too nice.
Peter, Eric, even Jeanine were like the Pleasantville versions of their evil book counterparts. Granted, it's hard to take Miles Teller's silly demeanor out of the equation, but (despite the whole trying to throw Tris over the cliff thing) he was just a loud mouth jerk. I wasn't even scared of Jeanine and in the book, girl gave me the serious creeps. While movie Eric was certainly an overbearing brute, in the book he was like a sadistic tyrant, reminiscent of Edward Norton in American History X.
4. Tris' internal battle wasn't as evident.
To no fault of Woodley's, Tris sometimes seemed inauthentic. If not for reading the book, I wouldn't have understood half the reasons behind her decisions, actions, and even her emotions. It takes nearly half of the movie to warm up to her character and see parts of her personality peek through. The subtext just wasn't there. The movie didn't even do enough to convey the struggle that Tris experiences when she realizes that she doesn't fit into Abnegation despite her attempts. It's the first step in understanding her divergence, and it proves to be a problem in comprehending her "otherness" for the rest of the movie.