At first glance the best selling young adult novel Divergent written by Veronica Roth and the robots-meet-aliens movie Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo Del Toro have little in common. One is about a strong willed young girl trying to find herself and protect the people she loves in post-apocalyptic Chicago. The other is about an almost post-apocalyptic future where humans build robots to fight aliens. Here is how the are similar.
1.) They both take from other source materials
No doubt about it, there is a lot in Divergent we have seen in other books before. Groups where young people are divided by the virtues they posses? Hello Harry Potter houses. Long combat training sequences where kids beat each other to bloody pulps? Didn’t I just read that in Ender’s Game? A strong female character who likes to wear her hair in a braid and (it looks like it’s heading this way) becomes the unwilling leader of a rebellion against the government? Wait, isn’t that the Hunger Games trilogy? However, Roth takes all these elements and creates a story and a world all her own…similar to what Del Toro does in Pacific Rim.
Humans fighting aliens is nothing new; especially aliens that have a desire to attack Asian cities (I was just happy it was not New York for once). Del Toro admits to taking many cues from Godzilla and Japanese anime. The movie also reminded me a bit of Transformers, mostly because it involves alien machines (rather than machines powered by humans) beating each other up. But I’m pretty sure a Jaeger could step on Optimus Prime with very little effort. The reason both this book and movie work are because they combine these elements that we know and love with their own creative ideas to make something new.
2. Lots and lots of fighting
Both Divergent and Pacific Rim are all about the action. Poor Tris barely has time to sleep, she is always busy running, punching, crying, fighting for her life, or doing something life threatening. I can see why this has the potential to be a great movie- it is going to be non stop. Which is what Pacific Rim was. I think Del Toro did a great job of creating fight scenes that were the perfect length; there really was never a dull moment. Both the book and the film also feature great training sequences (the book more so) that feature the characters coming into their own and learning to work together. Classic.
3. Pure entertainment value
Both Divergent and Pacific Rim are fun, plain and simple. Some of the reviews I read on Goodreads seem to have a lot of anger towards the book. I don’t understand why people can suspend their beliefs long enough to read books about teenage vampires and kids who have Gods for parents or go to a wizarding school, but this book is so hard to believe? While Divergent is not the most well written piece of literature I have ever read, I did enjoy it. I could not put it down. At one point I was brushing my teeth with one hand and holding the book with the other. That doesn’t happen very often. Were some things unbelievable? Sure, but this is the world Roth has created and if she is telling us it is true, then it is. I for one just sat back and enjoyed the ride very much.
Same goes for Pacific Rim. What is more fun then watching giant sea aliens battle giant robots controlled by people who look like they are doing Dance Dance Revolution? Not much, I’ll tell you that. Several times throughout the film I found myself saying (out loud) “wow” or “oh my God.” The visual effects were stunning and I think the kaiju caused less destruction to the world than Superman did to Kansas in Man of Steel. Pacific Rim is one of those great summer popcorn flicks that requires just enough thinking, but mostly you can sit back and have fun. (If you want a good laugh though check out some of the negative Pacific Rim reviews like the ones on Vulture and The New Yorker, they’re pretty funny and do make some good points.)
So while I won’t be trading in my Hufflepuff scarf or mocking jay pin for a dauntless tattoo any time soon and while Pan’s Labyrinth remains my favorite Del Toro film, I think both Divergent and Pacific Rim have great things to offer. If you are looking for some great summer entertainment, then look no further.
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