Thursday, March 20, 2014

Guest Post: All Eyes on Divergent

Today I have a special guest post to share with you all. Spencer Blohm is here to discuss the new film adaptation of Divergent and how it compares to similar YA book-to-film transitions. Enjoy!

As March 21st, the date for the release of Divergent into theaters, rapidly approaches, fans’ excitement for the film is steadily rising. Like many other series, Divergent is being heavily compared to others in its YA lit based genre. The series has fictional elements similar to the Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games franchises, but it’s the latter that draws the closest comparison. Both Divergent and Hunger Games are based in the future, contain a fair amount of action, feature female lead characters, and are even set in a dystopian world.

            Perhaps most importantly, these two series show exactly how much dystopian books, movies, and television shows are presently in demand. In fact, these two series have aided in plunging the stake in the dying trend of vampires, a theme which is only just lingering thanks to the much delayed release of Vampire Academy. However, that trend is more or less over, and it looks as if dystopian is the flavor of the moment. So far in 2014, Divergent will be the second dystopian themed film to be released, the first being RoboCop. Throughout the rest of 2014, no less than seven new films with dystopian themes will be premiering, including Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Giver, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

            Despite the crowded arena, Divergent is attempting to set itself apart from the rest of the dystopian films. Director Neil Burger has, logically, gone out of his way to create something drastically different from The Hunger Games. For those who are unfamiliar with Burger and his style, you can stream some of his other films, like The Illusionist and Limitless online through DirecTV (more info available on their web site) or Amazon. Regarding Divergent, Burger told Collider in an interview
“I wanted to do something different. We’ve seen a lot of post-apocalyptic movies, we’ve seen these other young adult movies. So I just thought that there was a way to do it in a much more cinematic way, to tell it visually, and also to tell it in a more real way.” 
He went on to explain, 
“Yeah I think some of the violence also is less about seeing a fist smash into a face or blood splatter… There’s a sense of violence emotionally, with people being killed. Again it’s less about how they die. Just the fact that they do die is really disturbing and upsetting, and intense.”
It appears Burger is trying as hard as he can to differentiate his directing and the film’s style from that of their most obvious competitor. It’s worth noting though, that Burger will not be directing the second film, so the style of the sequel could be drastically different from its predecessor.

            While we will have to wait for Divergent’s official box office numbers to see how it stacks up against The Hunger Games, according to The Hollywood Reporter estimates have the film pulling in around $65 million opening weekend. This total would fall significantly short of the $152 million The Hunger Games made its opening weekend, but it’s certainly not a small number. The film definitely has the potential to create mega stars out of main actors Shailene Woodley and Theo James, both largely unknown to the general public. While Woodley scored a Golden Globe nod for her performance in The Descendants, she presently lacks the star power of The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence. James, meanwhile, has very few acting credits to his name, and those he does have are better known in his native England. If the film is successful, however, the two of them could be kicking R-Patz and K-Stew of Twilight to the curb come this time next year.

Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment blogger who lives and works in Chicago. When he’s not busy working he can be found catching up on all his favorite TV shows or checking out the newest movies. His sadly neglected Twitter is @bspencerblohm.


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