Insurgent (2015)

insurgent_2015_poster
Insurgent (2015)
  • Time: 119 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller
  • Director: Robert Schwentke
  • Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort

Storyline:

One choice can transform you-or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable–and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships. Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

5 reviews

  • The middle film of the Divergent trilogy, Insurgent, comes off better than I expected.

    I went to see Insurgent, the second movie in the Divergent group, of my own free will but I wasn’t expecting much. Even with classic stories the middle of a trilogy more often than not becomes a static bridge between the beginning and the end. I left the theater having seen a movie and not a bridge. It was better than I had anticipated.
    This movie has a strong plot focus as a result of the novels it is based on and the screenplay by Brian Duffeld and Akiva Goldsman. Not having read the books I don’t know if Duffeld and Goldsman are adhering to the book or going off on their own. Whichever it might be, the plot works, holding your interest even as the characters do not. Plot elements are resolved and new elements added to keep the viewer interested. Director Robert Schwentke keeps everything moving, sometimes too fast. Often it looks like action for action’s sake with quick cuts and camera angles that can obscure the characters rather than enhance them. This series is never going to win any awards but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make a real effort at top flight movie making. A fight on a train becomes confusing and, more than once, characters appeared out of nowhere without any explanation and, in a couple of cases, without the appropriate time passing. These jumps, usually being done by the character named Four become just a little too convenient.
    There are also too many bad dreams and a whole sequence that becomes too long because you know what’s going to happen because it must happen in order for the last part of the trilogy to happen. And you know for the last ten minutes of the movie where everyone’s going for the third part of the trilogy. I also wonder if the third part is going to become two parts which would just be a movie to make more money and not adhere to the story.
    Shailene Woodley again plays Tris but anguish and anger are not characterization and the character doesn’t not grow as a result of what happens in this movie. She changes but it’s a lateral move. Kate Winslet plays Jeanine, the villain, with no depth thanks to the way the character has been written and edited. Theo James’s Four is just there because they need a hunk and he is. Ansel Elgort plays Tris’s brother Caleb and I’m not certain why he’s in this movie. I’m assuming he’ll have more to do in the last film/films. Miles Teller plays Peter but snotty arrogance is not a characterization and more should have been written for him.
    I have watched all of these actors in other films recently and was impressed when they are given more to do. As much as I found the plot interesting, it would have been much more interesting if the characters weren’t cardboard cut outs fulfilling the needs of the plot rather than being the driving forces that moved the plot.
    Octavia Spencer, Daniel Dae Kim, Janet McTeer, Tony Goldwyn, and Ashley Judd were wasted in their characters but I would hope Spencer, Kim, and McTeer will all have larger more important roles in the last instalment. Goldwyn and Judd died in the first movie so getting them into the last one is going to have to take some serious dream sequences.
    I give this movie 2 twists out of 4. It was better than I expected it to be even with all its flaws. But the next one really has to pick up its game or it will sink.

  • Insurgent, the second installment of The Divergent Series, is a mostly sputtering mess before it coalesces into a propulsive third act. It is a curious film, one that assumes audiences have either seen the first film or read Veronica Roth’s popular trilogy, yet spends nearly its entire duration reviewing everything it established in the first film. Generally speaking, second installments tend to be the most enjoyable, free as they are of the burden of exposition and focused only on moving the narrative forward. Insurgent inches along, proving one of the many exceptions to the rule.

    The film begins in Amity, where faction leader Johanna (Octavia Spencer) has temporarily taken in our heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley), her boyfriend Four (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), and untrustworthy fellow trainee Peter (Miles Teller, providing the only source of levity in a film that takes itself way too seriously). Tris and Four are fugitives since Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) deems them responsible for the Abnegation massacre. More importantly, their roles as Divergents make them particularly wanted as the cunning leader believes only a Divergent can unlock a mysterious box that contains a message from the city’s founders.

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  • Quickie Review:

    After the attempted coup by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her friends narrowly escape. The factionless along with Tris plan to retaliate against the Erudite faction. Meanwhile, Jeanine is rounding up all divergents to open a message from the founders that could change the course of the civil war. Much like the first movie Insurgent has a richly detailed world and it is further expanded here. Shailene Woodley is still the core strength of this film. However, multiple problems such as one-note characters and meandering subplots, hinder Insurgent from being the complete package that it could’ve been. The last act of the movie does help redeem the movie, but unless you’re a fan of the books there is no rush to go out and see it.

    Full Review:

    Divergent last year was somewhat lukewarm experience for me. I liked the concept that it was going for but somewhere in the execution I lost some of my interest. Still there were enough positives there that I didn’t completely dislike the movie. It seems I have the same reaction this time around with Insurgent.

    Insurgent continues to develop that dystopian society beyond what was introduced in the first film. These were some of the more interesting parts, seeing what position the factionless, Candor, and Amity take in the conflict and their motivation for it. I must say that the Amity faction did seem like they were smoking a bit too much of their crops because they were way too happy about everything, but their leader played by Octavia Spencer grounded them in reality. Shailene Woodley continues to do a good job with her character. All her emotions feel real and are never forced, so she makes for a likeable protagonist. You are rooting for her throughout the movie even when the story slows down. The last act was the most exciting part of the movie. I am not saying that just because of the action and CGI set pieces (which were shot well), but because the events that followed and their consequences feel relevant. So for that reason the ending is more satisfying than that of the first movie. Of course I am not revealing anything here, but it definitely makes up for some of the complaints I have for the movie.

    As for those complaints, I have quite a few. To start off, other than Woodley the rest of the cast are either underutilised or are completely one-note. This movie has some great actors like Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer, but the total amount of relevant screen time they have is less than 5 mins. Then there is also Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and Kate Winslet who are incredibly talented, but we don’t see that because each of their characters have only one emotional setting. When there is a change in their character it doesn’t feel natural, it is completely baffling and feels fake. Beyond the misuse of the cast, Insurgent has a hard time focusing its story. I liked that it picks up right where we left in Divergent, but the middle third of the movie is spent introducing so many characters and story elements that it starts to get a little convoluted. You don’t see the significance of these new elements even after the end of the movie (can’t say much more without ruining the story for you). Perhaps it is a set-up for the next movies in the franchise.

    Fans of the book and the first movie will and should run out to see this movie. The world that is created is significantly expanded, and Woodley gives another great performance making her a really good heroine. For newcomers, you have to watch Divergent otherwise you’ll be lost. On the other hand, if like me you had mixed feelings about Divergent, expect to have the same reaction to this sequel. For you it is a worthy video-on-demand film.

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  • Revolutions are not uncommon among societies. It is littered through recorded history and proves that when people become defiant enough about their situation, they will do something to change it. The change however that goes about may not be peaceful or violent. It all depends on how the people who want to change the situation think is the best way to do it. Another key thing to remember is that when people have a revolution it is because their eyes are opened up to the truth (and most of the time, the truth hurts). When Divergent (2014) arrived, it did not have the strongest of action sequences or strikingly recognizable music but its characters were well written, had distinguishable personalities and a story that was different from most eutopian Earth settings. The most unique trait about the story was that the society was separated by factions according to personality but if someone matched all of them, they were considered a “divergent”; a danger to society.

    After learning herself that Tris (Shailene Woodley) was one herself, she originally fled to try and stay out of trouble. Later on though after meeting new friends and gaining confidence, she turned around and decided to fight back against Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the head of all control. The story line to this sequel is where it leaves off. However, even with all writers from Divergent (2014) being replaced and throwing in an extra writer didn’t seem to add any depth. There are more explanations but not all of it makes sense either. Audiences will now learn that Jeanine has a box from the outside society’s protective walls that if unlocked, will tell the secret to destroying all divergents. The only way to unlock this box is by having a divergent person pass its mental test, which is no cakewalk. The mental test is so difficult many have died, but Jeanine won’t stop until she finds the right person to open it. Yeah but if Jeanine is killing divergent people in the process, isn’t she kind of getting what she wants anyway? It sounds like she’s making this more complex than it needs to be.

    Another threat is also the addition of devices that’ll immediately tell Jeanine’s head cronies Eric (Jai Courtney) and Max (Mekhi Phifer) who is 100% divergent. So now people have percentages of divergent in them? From what Divergent (2014) stated, it sounded like if you were divergent, you were divergent – not 30% or 95% divergent. Let’s be consistent please. Besides the confusing continuity and nonsensical plot device, the execution is mostly predictable as well, which isn’t the best. This specifically pertains to the revolution where Tris ends up meeting Four’s (Theo James) mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts) who wants to fight back against Jeanine as well. Although not as prevalent as before, character development still exists. There are still appearances by the original cast – Octavia Spencer, Tony Goldwyn, Zoë Kravitz, Ray Stevenson, Ashley Judd, Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller. The acting thankfully saves some of the quality to the characters. All actors can perform the right emotion for the right scene.

    Again other than main characters, Jai Courtney looked like he had the most fun in his role being an utter jerk yet one who enjoys his job. In fact, it’s a bit deceiving because at one point during this series, the role of Eric could’ve developed into something more. This is not the case however, for the writers took a more predictable route. One aspect of the film that was ramped up compared to Divergent (2014) were the special effects. The look of them are polished enough to look real but what was creative the most were in box mental tests. Not all were inventive but for the parts that were, it was impressive. The action however still wasn’t anything that was attention grabbing. Much of it was the usual shootout between divergents and the people trying to capture them.

    On the upside the cinematography by Florian Ballhaus (The Devil Wears Prada (2006), RED (2010), Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011)) was well shot. Although Divergent (2014) also had wide panning shots of scenery, Ballhaus tended to get even more that not only included more shots of the city but also other landscapes. All of it is steady and clearly visible. However, there is one missing signature camera trick and that’s the ultra-zoom shot mastered by director Robert Schwentke. It’s fine that this action/fantasy film doesn’t have action sequences like Schwentke’s previous work like R.I.P.D. (2013) & RED (2010), but he still could have at least used his ultra-zoom shots. They’re smooth, quick and they make the action feel more energetic. Other than that, Ballhaus’ work gets an approval. The film score composed Joseph Trapanese was fairly reminiscent of Junkie XL/Hans Zimmer iterations but it didn’t exactly emote the proper emotions when needed. Sometimes it felt like a track was going somewhere but it wasn’t engaging enough. Plus, no reoccurring theme for the franchise? Let’s go people.

    It is still watchable to a point with its occasionally creative special effects, decent acting and lovely looking cinematography, but that’s it. The action is still rather uneventful, the continuity isn’t recognized, the music remains anonymous sounding and the story itself is fairly predictable along with an overly complicated plot device.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

  • “Divergent 100%. I’ll be damned. What? She’s what we’ve been looking for.”

    I really start hating those damn different film versions of children’s books. They are always spread over several films so you always have to wait a year before you can see the sequel. Similarly this sequel to “Divergent”. I could still partially remember what it was about, but the first 15 minutes I was actually systematically trying to reconstruct the previous film. It would be best to watch the previous movie once again before you start a sequel. But then again this happens never due to the lack of time. And then, to know that the last part of the sequel is again divided into two films, and that for the obvious reasons. Let’s hope that my biggest fear won’t come true, namely that we’ll be overwhelmed by serial-like movies in the future.

    Logically one makes a comparison with the similar series of films of “The Hunger Games”. The first part of the latter was clearly way better than “Divergent”. But “Insurgent” surpasses again the second part of “The Hunger Games” . I thought the latter was a faint duplicate of the first part. I had the tendency to check all the time to see if I hadn’t started the wrong movie. “Insurgent” continues where the first part left off (quite logical, no?). It doesn’t waste any time and soon it plunges itself into a series of thrilling action sequences. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles Teller, who made a greater impression on me in “Whiplash”), the least reliable gland of the group, were separated from the rest of Dauntless. This faction had to flee after Jeanine (Kate Winslet) started a coup during which she wanted to eradicate “divergents” (for those who didn’t know, Tris is Divergent which allegedly means she could belong to any faction) because they constitute a threat for the peaceful society as it exists now. Meanwhile Jeanine’s troops have found a mysterious device with all symbols of all factions printed on it. Seemingly it contains a message from the founders of the city and can only be opened by someone who can undergo all the simulations without dying. Guess twice who the lucky volunteer will be!

    Last year I said to myself not to watch the next parts of this series because it was so predictable and because of the teenage girl content. Well, you can see I gave in but no regrets this time. Yet only a few remarks. The uncomplicated way Tris could create such a trendy, modern styled haircut without a mirror and with a primitive-looking scissors (looks like an illustration from a glossy magazine which you can find on the table at your local hairdresser), even stunned my wife with a marveled reaction as a result. This will be the new hair style this summer, I guess. Then it occurred to me again that nobody can get on or off a train in a typical manner. And then there is the thrilling fact that seemingly without much effort (they are massively sought and still they can stroll around everywhere calmly) they are being overpowered, after which suddenly they are again liberated. And then of course the obligatory lovescenes are present as well.

    But otherwise, this film is filled with action and the CGI is at times unprecedented that’ll take your breath away. Especially the simulations looked amazing and detailed (especially the house floating through the air). The fact that you didn’t know whether it was real or a simulated situation became a bit monotonous. But the film went on at a furious pace so you won’t be bored for a minute. It’s a certainty that I’ll be watching the last part as well although I’ll probably be p*ssed because of them making 2 films out of it. The end result will surely be two quite largely stretched-out parts.

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