Possible spoilers ahead!
I must start by admitting that I tried reading the first novel a couple of years back, but I got bored a couple of chapters in. Simply put: I kept comparing it to the Hunger Games novels. For that reason, I didn’t “Divergent” when it hit theatres last year. However, I did see the Honest Trailer, and I was happy that I wasn’t alone in making the Hunger Games comparison.
So if I didn’t like the book and didn’t see the first movie, why in the world did I go see “The Divergent Series: Insurgent”? Because SC ComiCon didn’t start on Friday and because the wifey wanted to see it. And here’s what I saw:
In a post-apocalyptic Chicago “Insurgent” finds Tris (Shailene Woodley), her boyfriend Four (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Judas-in-waiting Peter (Miles Teller) hiding out with the hippie, food-growing Amity led by Johanna (Octavia Spencer). Sadly, Spencer had more screen time at the Oscars guarding Doogie Howser’s box than she does in this movie.
Anywho, the insurgents are poised to take out the evil Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the leader of the logical Erudite, who now spinning the bloody coup against selfless public servants Abnegation as the work of these “fugitives.”
Plotting out a path to Jeanine’s fortified tower, the rebels encounter the factionless — led by Four’s estranged mother (because everyone thought she was dead), Evelyn (played by an almost unrecognizable Naomi Watts) — and their fellow former city protectors Dauntless, now holed up with the honest Candor.
Now the stage is set for an ultimate showdown between the forces of good and evil.
“Insurgent” checks off formulaic YA sequel boxes such as coping with the guilt and psychological trauma of violence and making new allies on the road to war. But the manner with which the film fulfills those requirements was unexpected and dare I say it, a bit original. And I think most of the credit goes to the film’s star Shailene Woodley.
As Tris, Woodley plays well off powerhouses Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts, and in the film’s standout scenes gets to show the range of her abilities through a series of simulations that tap into her skills as a Divergent. Not to mention, Woodley looks really good in the action sequences, even of the CGI and other special effects are not always that great. The Chicago landscape is some of the worst CGI I’ve seen, but luckily the acting makes up for it.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of this movie is that the story and action moves quickly. There isn’t much down time which I found refreshing. And even if you skipped the first movie like i did, it’s very easy to catch up on what’s going on.
As for what I didn’t like, that’s an easy one: Director Robert Schwentke seems to be obsessed with Shailene Woodley’s ass. Let me explain…
Nearly every shot of Woodley walking, is shot from behind and below. If she’s climbing up or down something, you can guess where the camera is shooting from. And during the house on fire action sequence, the camera seemed to linger it bit longer than it needed to. Woodley has a nice butt, don’t get me wrong. I just thought it was a bit much.
Look, I went into this movie with extremely low expectations, but I liked a lot of what I saw. I’m not saying “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” is as good a sequel as “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” was, but its pretty good. And I’m curious to see where the series goes from here.
“The Divergent Series: Insurgent” final score: 7.5