The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Welcome back guest writer Andrew for his review of Insurgent. Mild spoilers follow.
I want to begin this review by letting you know that I haven’t read the Divergent book trilogy, and I wasn’t a fan of the first movie., However, I was asked to check the movie out and so writing a review on it after the fact isn’t much of a stretch for me. In the spirit of full disclosure I wasn’t charged for my ticket, but trust me–it won’t have an effect on my opinion of the movie. This is the second movie in the series so if you haven’t seen Divergent yet you may want to hold off reading this review as there will be spoilers for the first film.
Insurgent starts with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) in hiding after the events of the first film while Jeanine (our antagonist played by Kate Winslet) is in full damage control mode, exerting more and more influence over the other factions and the council. The direction that the film is going to go from here is fairly clear and there are no surprises waiting for you at all. Even the final twenty minutes, where things normally get shaken up, were a straight line from A to B and what could have been a surprise for anyone that didn’t read the books was spoiled if you’ve seen any of the TV spots.
Despite the predictability there are redeeming features in this film. Our protagonist Tris was a pretty good example of a “strong female lead”–even when it would have been easy to put in a trope that has the man come to her rescue, it didn’t happen. She remained self-reliant and even saved some of her male companions. Instead of falling into patterns and tropes the story became about her journey of self discovery and was the best part of this movie. I disliked the first film in this series, so I was really surprised by how much I didn’t dislike this one. While there is another book, and a two part finale announced the movie ends in such a way that if it performs poorly at the box office, the series could end here.
While many normal Hollywood tropes were avoided, the story was predictable and held no surprises. You knew what was going to happen, it was just how you were going to get there. Even the “big reveal” wasn’t a big surprise and I haven’t read the books. I give the story a 5/10.
Even with a predictable story though, the acting was fairly well done. Shailene Woodley, who has proven to be one of Hollywood’s brightest young talents (see The Fault In Our Stars), took an average story and kept me interested with a performance that shows she will have a long career outside this series. The rest of the cast, however, seemed adequate at best. Theo James seemed lost and was consistently out acted by his co-stars. Naomi Watts didn’t seem interested, possibly because most of her dialogue was cliche, and Kate Winslet, while she delivered her character, was written so one- dimensionally there was only so much she could do with the part. 7/10.
Where the movie gains points is it’s inclusivity. Our protagonist is a woman, our antagonist is a woman., Iin fact, of the people in positions of power that we meet in the film, only one is a man. It isn’t lacking people of color either, however they are primarily in the background and unimportant to the overall progress of the story. 7/10.
As for general awesomeness, Insurgent also falls a little short. The predictability of the story from beginning to end makes it a movie where you can shut of your mind and let it simply distract you for two hours, although I wouldn’t recommend it. You would miss what did make the movie awesome: Tris’ journey of self discovery. The theme of finding your identity is what makes it great as it is a journey that too few of us undertake until something forces that self examination on us. 6/10.
With a final score of 6.25/10, it’s an average movie at best but not a bad one to take your kids to and maybe start a discussion about identity and self worth.
(image source: promotional material for Insurgent distributed by Summit Entertainment)