Tonight we’re going to talk about movie sequels. There are a lot of them this summer, and while I haven’t seen them all, I’ve seen quite a few… though I’ve been behind, really behind on doing the reviews. Something about the summer really screws up my schedule. Probably because I don’t really have one for the summer…
Of the many sequels I’ve seen so far, I finally saw the finale to the Divergent trilogy, and, just as I expected, they changed the ending.
I’m not sure I like what they did. I mean, I like the idea behind it, but it completely loses the message from the book. In the book, it’s all about choices, and how we choose our own fate. Tris chooses her fate and chooses to sacrifice herself. In the rest of the trilogy, she does actually sacrifice herself, and there’s this idea of “once a stiff, always a stiff,” to use the nickname that the Dauntless use to describe the selfless Abnegation faction.
Even though she distinctly chooses bravery as her most prized virtue by entering into Dauntless, she basically has to learn that the self-sacrifice taught by Abnegation is one of the bravest things a person can do. By being Divergent, she can choose her fate more than the rest, and it’s a tale of combining the skills she naturally has (Nature) with the traits she learns (Nurture). The way they changed the ending, while less tragic and leaving us with the Happily Ever After that many of us wanted while we were reading the story, it loses that lesson and that element of choice.
It completely changed the message to one of inclusion: we’re all the same and we should stop labeling ourselves, which was a lesser message of the book, but more important for what’s going on in our world today. Racism, sexism, gender identity labeling and discrimination, etc. are all labels that separate us, destroying this country and keeping us fixated on fear. In the Divergent trilogy, they label by faction, and in the last book it’s pure versus damaged.
It’s a good message, but it makes the protagonist weaker… which I have an issue with because I think Tris is a much stronger example of a hero than Katniss, but the way both movies altered the endings makes Katniss the stronger by far. In the book, Katniss was more reactionary than revolutionary, while Tris in the book is someone who embraces her own strength and willpower.
In the final movies of both, it’s flip-flopped, meaning Katniss’s character actually grows and evolves, following the progression of a hero, while Tris actually devolves into a dumb, reactionary girl who blindly believes what she’s told and the characters around her are the ones who raise up to her level.
Anyway, I could go on and on about how wrong that movie was… no wonder it wasn’t marketed very heavily, nor did it do well in the theater.
The point is that sometimes the sequels don’t live up to the original, or even to the source material they are based off of. Sometimes sequels are more like Frankenstein’s monster, designed to resurrect the initial momentum of the original, but usually ends up a mangled hodgepodge of a mess that is hated and seen as an enemy or a villain by an angry mob.
Tonight, on #JustAddTea, we’ll be discussing sequels, both good and bad. Can a sequel be better than the original? What’s your favorite sequel? Is there a movie that needs a sequel? What about one that had a sequel but shouldn’t have?
Join us on Twitter and discuss all these and more tonight at 8 pm Central time, (9 pm Eastern, or 6 pm Pacific).