Thank you to @mama_cougar for writing this amazing review of her day....
Divergent Red Carpet Premiere – Chicago, IL March 4th, 2014
When my friend Mandy messaged me & asked me to cover the Divergent red carpet for her, I was honored and thrilled she’s consider me to cover the event for her readership at MandysMind.com. Thanks, Mandy for the opportunity to share my experiences with you & your readership!
I arrived with my husband (photographer) and daughter Katy (a huge Divergent fan) in Chicago at about 2:30 in the afternoon so that we could scout the premiere location & get our bearings. Let’s just say, having attended other major franchise premieres in both LA & NYC, this ain’t Mama’s first rodeo. I’m a big proponent of getting the “lay of the land”, talking to location staff, etc.to make sure I’m following appropriate rules for the event. Surprisingly, when we arrived, there were two groups already lined up outside so we parked & hopped in line. Theater staff at the Showplace ICON told us, they’d allow us inside at 4 pm so that meant a 90 minute wait outside the theater, which was pretty chilly. Fortunately, we’d prepared well with layers & winter gear so while uncomfortable at times, it was tolerable. As promised, at 4 the staff ushered us into an orderly, roped queue inside.
What struck me about this group of fans were their friendliness to each other and willingness to help other fans. One very young girl arrived without tickets and was quickly helped out by a fan in line who had a spare. Her face was priceless! Albeit a much smaller event than say, a vampire franchise premiere, the prevailing culture here was one of general helpfulness and kindness instead of some of the more catty behavior I’ve experienced at other events.
At about 6, they started allowing fans on the carpet and my family and I were lucky enough to secure spots right on the barrier with full view of the red carpet. Of course there was the normal squishing and overexcitement of fans in a fervor to get photos & autographs, but that was pretty expected. If you can’t handle that heat, stay home! My sweet daughter had two goals, getting her book signed by Veronica Roth and a photo with Ansel Elgort (Caleb). She got both, so she was super excited and very happy with her experience!
Random thought on the celebs:
Divergent Author Veronica Roth: Very humble and still seemed surprised at the attention she garnered. Took her time with the press to give well thought out interview responses and then happily signed & did photo ops with fans. Also, the girl wore SHINY GOLD DOC MARTENS. It doesn’t get more awesome than that. Seriously.
Theo James (Tobias/Four): Okay ladies….this man is SERIOUS EYE CANDY. He, of course, garnered the lion’s share of squeals from the crowd and that is certainly well deserved because he is almost painfully gorgeous and when he smiles, it’s like sunshine in the dead of winter. Scratch that, it’s not “like” sunshine, it quite literally IS sunshine. In the dead of winter. He had less time to spend with fans but tried to get to as many as he could and enthusiastically grabbed phones & cameras for as many selfies as he could.
Shailene Woodley (Beatrice Prior/Tris): What struck me most about Shailene was something I coined “easy grace”. She seemed very comfortable & confident in her own skin while still retaining humility and sweetness. It was obvious that this is a girl who has a very solid sense of herself and has developed a poise that’s rare in very young actresses. Again…her high demand with the press gave her less time with fans, but she & her handlers did their best.
Ansel Elgort (Caleb Prior): For me, at least, this kid stole the show. Despite his supporting role in the film, he was obviously a fan favorite, and I suspect there were many fans of The Fault in Our Stars in attendance, since they know Ansel & Shailene are starring in this John Green book adaptation, slated for release on June 6th. Ansel is nothing short of a red carpet Rock Star. He dutifully answered press questions but you could tell this kid wanted nothing more than to interact with fans. His agent came supplied with several pairs of screening tickets which Ansel took great joy in giving away at random to those who expressed a need for them. He walked the fan line no less than three times making sure to sign & take photos with anyone he could reach. The kid has such a sweet smile and he just radiated kindness. He has a very bright future in store!
Now…a few (just a FEW) comments on the film because NO SPOILERS and I want all of you to see the film with fresh eyes when you go on March 21st.
· If you are a fan of the books, you’ll LOVE the movie. It’s very loyal to Veronica’s manuscript. And by loyal, I mean, they kept everything important IN and left very, very little out. This, for me, meant the film ran a little long, but I wasn’t by any means bored for even a single second of it. The pacing was good and every scene led you to the next one very smoothly with good, old fashioned storytelling. This means that even folks who haven’t read the book can truly enjoy the film!
· I’ve seen quite a few book-to-screen Young Adult adaptations over the past 5 years and Divergent is hands down, one of the most “intelligent”. I never felt pandered to (well, maybe a tiny bit during the scene where Four takes his shirt off to show Tris his tattoos, but given Theo’s physique, ALL IS FORGIVEN) and it just felt like a smart, tight film that a very wide age range could enjoy.
· Chicagoans in particular should be very proud of this film. Given it’s set in the Windy City, the fun part for those of us who’ve lived in or around it is seeing & recognizing shooting locations & landmarks. Extra coolness points for the special effect/CGI work that transformed locations into a landscape in the midst of ruin and looked very believable. In particular, I was a fan of the rickety L trains!
It was a long day, but I’m very happy I was able to experience The Divergent premiere in the city in which it was set, and on the special occasion of that city’s 177th birthday! Thanks again Mandy, for the opportunity and I hope all of your readers enjoy the film as much as I did. I know I’m planning on seeing it again on March 21st!
Mary (a.k.a. Mama_Cougar)
Mary, you are MORE than welcome! Thank-you for writing this amazing review!