Wind the clock back a year, to when the movie adaptation of DIVERGENT hit the big screens and was met with acclaim from reviewers, Veronica Roth herself, and most importantly, fans of the book. Things looked like they couldn’t get better for the Divergent franchise; the movie was a massive hit and the series had been wrapped up in a well-rounded way (albeit one that incited the rage of thousands of angry fans everywhere). But then, Lionsgate made the announcement that the final instalment of the series, ALLEGIANT, would be split into two movies. Groans sounded around the globe. Why? Why do all YA book-to-movie adaptations have to do that? It was magical with Harry Potter, it was kind of repetitive with Twilight, it was a burden with The Hunger Games, and honestly, it’s just unnecessary with Divergent. (You can read an article that I wrote for Bookstacked discussing splitting final books into two movies, as well as my initial reactions to the ALLEGIANT news here.)
I often try to consider things from the middle. For example: the Insurgent movie. Okay, my thoughts on the movie, when I left the theatre, were incredibly mixed. One one hand, I enjoyed it as a movie. I thought the acting was great, the dialogue was great, the production and direction was fantastic. What wasn’t great? It’s status as an ‘adaptation’. It completely ignored parts of the book, and changed things that didn’t need to change. I get that it’s a cool visual to have the message at the end of the movie as a super-secret box that only Divergents can open, but the fact that it was just a regular old DVD in the book was what made it great in the book. It was an old form of technology and communication, hidden for years. The fact that it was a technologically advanced box in the movie made no sense in the context. But, as I said; it’s a good movie. Just not a good adaptation. That’s why I’m becoming increasingly worried about the Allegiant movie being in two parts. Insurgent wasn’t a good adaptation. The filmmakers, as much as I hate to say this, messed up. They geared the second movie more towards action film fans, and less towards the dedicated fans of the book. As it stands, there’s not a great deal more plot in ALLEGIANT than there was in DIVERGENT, and both books are practically the exact same length. If the Divergent movie could be so good in one movie instalment, why do they all of a sudden have to have Allegiant done in two? It’s really just not needed. I’ll of course see both of them in the cinema when they come out, though that’s really out of dedication to the series and to Veronica Roth more than anything.
And that leads me on to yesterdays announcement: the fourth movie being re-titled. Since the announcement was made last year, ALLEGIANT was going to be made into “The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part One” and “The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part Two”, but it was revealed on MTV yesterday that they would be known as “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” and “The Divergent Series: Ascendant”. Speaking on the news, Veronica Roth wrote on her tumblr page:
What does this mean? Well, basically, it means there are going to be some changes, but it’s really too early to know exactly what those changes will be or the extent of them. I know changes always make fans of the books– and the author!– nervous, but hopefully the characters we know (and love. Or sometimes love to hate?) will still be intact, which is really the important thing. I am eager to see how these movies turn out, along with you guys.
Now we know that there are definitely going to be changes to the story (which I knew there have to be after Insurgent slightly altered the ending of the book), and that Veronica Roth isn’t entirely aware of what those changes will be. Changes aren’t always a bad thing. Sometimes things don’t adapt well from the book, and filmic changes often lead to a better movie experience. So, until we know more about those changes, I think it’s far to early too condemn the movies and hate the filmmakers for the decision. So, while I’m against Allegiant being done in two parts, I’m going to wait before I firmly say whether or not it’s the definitive wrong choice. If the movies are bad adaptations, but good movies, I’ll enjoy them as that and nothing more. Poor adaptations doesn’t mean that the books lose merit, or cease to exist. Just because the movie might change something, doesn’t mean it’s not still the same as it always was in the book. (Plus, no book-to-movie adaptation can ever be as bad as Eragon, which was bad on so many levels; writing, acting, direction, and it bore almost no similarity to the source material.)
On the title change, however? Personally, I really like it. The generic “Part One” and “Part Two” thing was wearing thin, and I think that in terms of people who are fans of the movies and not the book, it definitely makes them more of two separate films in the series, rather than two parts of one film. People who don’t care about the books won’t feel like they are only getting half a of story, because “Allegiant” and “Ascendant” firmly separate them into two independent stories. I’ve seen some people having a problem with the choice of the title for Part Two, but again, I have nothing against it really. It ties in with the second part of the book, and at the end of the day, it’s just a film title. It could be called “The Divergent Series: The Great Big Adventure of Tris Prior and her Goofy Friends” and I’d probably still watch it (though, I’m kind of disappointed that they didn’t go with “The Divergent Series: Detergent” for the title. That would have been awesome.) The symbols behind the titles in the posters though are what are of most interest to me. Allegiant has a water symbol, like that found on the cover of the book, but Ascendant has a DNA strand. Readers of the book will be able to figure out what both movies will focus on from those small details.
In the end, I’m disappointed at how the series has gone downhill after the triumph of the first movie, confused and irritated at the decision to split the last book, but hopeful that I’ll find enjoyment in the rest of the series. When you really separate the books from the movies, it makes the whole thing a lot less infuriating.