All right, all right, everyone knows I love trash scifi movies. When the supernatural and/or dystopian scifi young adult trend exploded, I lost my shit. Twilight, Hunger Games, Teen Wolf, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, you name it.
I grew up on Tolkien, Shelley, and Anne Rice, which bourgeois adults consider to be “more cerebral” than the current YA media scene. The language, characters, and history were certainly more intellectually elevating; however, in response to that argument I offer a resounding “so what”. If these dumbed-down books help teens become interested in reading, I think it’s short-sighted to scoff and demean the fans of these literature stepping stones. Additionally, a love for trash media can coexist with an appreciation for Dickens and Dostoevsky, and the publishing industry is not worse off for it.
It’s big news right now that the final Divergent Series film has been bounced from the big screen. The lackluster ticket sales appeared to be due to the lower quality final book, the studio’s slicing said book across two films, and the overall lover interest in this series compared to other YA hits like Twilight and The Hunger Games (which had its own struggle stretching the final book across two films). Curious and hungry for high-production value, low-brow YA scifi-fantasy, I finally got around to watching these (thanks to a combination of Amazon Video Streaming rentals and HBO Now). I found myself in total disagreement with the buzz. Here’s my breakdown:
- Divergent was the most enjoyable
- Insurgent was the most suspenseful
- and Allegiant was the most interesting
Theo James perfectly plays the sulky, alpha male hunk, and Shailene wins at the fierce, confident wunderkind. Kate Winslet wins at being Kate Winslet *shrug* My particular issue with the casting team was the collection of generic, babyfaced white boys with scraggly dark hair that I was somehow supposed to keep straight. It was a struggle, and I had to rewind the cliff scene and then IMDB the character when Tris said the culprit’s name. OK, it was Al….. Good. ….Which one was Al? Luckily, it got easier because the series killed off these guys systematically until only two remained. This series suffered from a severe lack of Nicholas Cage or Jeff Goldblum types, but whaddya gonna do.
As predictable as it was, I was still annoyed that Tori–the only interesting adult character–was killed the moment she began to do stuff again. However, she surprised me by surviving Divergent, so that tells you how low the bar was in the first place. You know what the scifi bible says: Thou shalt not suffer the cool asians to live. Meanwhile, walking wastebaskets of cells, Miles Teller & her brother, were allowed to live over and over again. Sometimes forgiveness isn’t a virtue, kids; it’s a weakness. Let those toxic people out of your life! You do not need to surround yourself with people actively working against your interests & who constantly betray you just because they “feel bad” or have nowhere better to go or they’re “really really sorry”. That’s called emotional manipulation and is a favored tactic of abusers. Maybe she excises them from her life in part 2 of Allegiant, but I doubt it. They’re far more likely to be #redeemed because #secondchances (#thirdchances, #fourthchances….)
In summary, they were fine, and I’m disappointed the fourth one’s been cancelled. Here’s to bloated budgets for young adult scifi-fantasy dystopias! And may they never stop coming.