The FourTris is strong in Insurgent movie

It’s often said that the sequel of a popular movie is always worse than the original.  There are some exceptions that come to mind, but in general people seem to find that to be the case.  However, what if the movies are based on books, such as the Divergent trilogy?  For me, I found the book Insurgent to be my favorite of the three.  So, I suppose with that in mind, I had wanted to put my expectations higher for the Insurgent movie.

Insurgent movie - official still - Four and Tris
Four (Theo James) and Tris (Shailene Woodley)

But I’ve been disappointed by sequels before, so with that in mind, I actually felt like I needed to keep the hype to a minimum when it came to this movie.  I also came in with the knowledge that not everything about the book was going to be integrated into the feature film.  And I was right to do so.  I will start by giving the non-readers perspective, from someone who’s only seen the Divergent movie.

One thing I liked is that they don’t really slow it down for you in the beginning, which is a good start.  And some may be happy to know they’ve gotten rid of the first-person voiceover narrative as well, which has become a groan-worthy staple of a young adult film (one that honestly needs to stop.)

We basically start off where we ended off from Divergent – Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Peter (Miles Teller) and Marcus (Ray Stevenson) in hiding from the Dauntless and the leader of the Erudite faction, Jeanine (Kate Winslet).  We do see them try to get along for a bit as they get some respite for about the first fifteen minutes of the film, but things quickly turn and it’s pretty fast-paced from that point on.

Insurgent movie - official still - Jeanine and Tris
Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) and Tris (Shailene Woodley)

Throughout the movie, Tris struggles with the guilt of having killed Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) in the first movie, and it’s a recurring theme throughout that ends when she’s faced with fighting her evil side.  Coincidentally, that also plays a part into Jeanine’s obsession with that weird pentagonal object that’s shown in some of the TV spots and trailers.  At first I wasn’t so sure about it, but the appearance of the object and its purpose was actually a nice way of interpreting the importance of Tris.

Add to that the introduction of Johanna (Octavia Spencer) and her Amity group, Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) and his Candor group, and more revelations about the factionless, (although they did seem more like mildly dirty factory workers than the homeless types that make up the factionless,) and you’ve got a pretty solid story in the sequel.  As a side-note, I found the Amity set to be rather impressive with its warm tones and smooth surroundings, as compared to the stark contracts and harsh lighting of the Candor and Erudite sets.  They all seemed to resemble the faction pretty well.

Insurgent movie - official still - Jack Kang
Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim)

However, this didn’t come without some missteps.  Although some of the simulations were pretty decent, it was mediocre during at least one of the simulations that Tris goes through, which was enough to label it as “cheesy”.  There were also some continuity issues regarding the city’s look and feel from the first movie to the sequel, and it’s hardly unnoticeable.  Although it doesn’t affect the story, it can be very distracting in a way, especially if you consider the Chicago skyline and its landmarks a character as well.

Now, if those were the only issues that were a problematic, I think I would’ve been much more satisfied with it.  I believe that Spencer and Kim did what they could for their parts in the film, but I felt that Naomi Watts as Evelyn Eaton seemed to be “phoning it in.”  I can only hope that she gets more into her role in the Allegiant movies, although that doesn’t help matters in this film.

Insurgent movie - official still - Evelyn Eaton
Evelyn Eaton (Naomi Watts)

Elgort and Teller, for their part, were strong enough as Caleb and Peter.  And I think out of all the supporting characters, Teller’s performance was the one that I enjoyed the most.

All in all, non-readers might find it pretty entertaining.

Now, in regards to those that have read the books, this can be a different matter.  I won’t say much, but even I was hoping for more of what was in the book to mesh into the movie, and I usually don’t mind when not everything in the book makes it.  Despite the action-packed sequences and the capable abilities of both Woodley and James, I believe that some of the other characters’ subplots or just a bit more knowledge of them could’ve helped the overall impact of the story. Everybody else just seemed kind of an afterthought.  And that’s where I found my fault with the movie.  But considering that this movie didn’t really drag, I can forgive them for under-utilizing many of those characters.

Insurgent movie - official still - Four, Tris, and Peter
Four, Tris, and Peter (Miles Teller)

Having said that, the chemistry between Theo James and Shailene Woodley was even better in this movie than in the first movie.  There are some really strong moments for them, especially Woodley’s Tris.  And one thing that I believe readers and non-readers will also like is that no cheesy, angsty, love song was played at any point in any scene.  Small miracles.

Those who want everything to be exactly like the book will be disappointed, but thinking about it now, it makes me look forward to what they have planned for Allegiant, parts 1 and 2.

My recommendation is that you go see it, but leave your high book expectations behind.

Do you plan on seeing Insurgent?  Let us know what you think or rate below!

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars

Insurgent movie - IMAX poster