The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Lionsgate, PG-13)

insurg sqI wasn’t in pain while watching Insurgent, but I didn’t find it very convincing, either, and as such am left generally not caring about the whole thing.

 

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For those who aren’t deeply into the surge of young-adult (YA) fiction of the past decade or so, it seems these YA film adaptations are starting to blend all together. (Maybe that helps to explain why those outside of the YA circle are so convinced that they’re going to hate all of these movies all of the time.) Though I liked the film Divergent well enough, I haven’t read the books, and the defining characteristic of that movie was that it seemed to take characters, scenes, plot points, etc. from other, more recognizable recent works for young adults, such as The Hunger Games, or, to a lesser extent, even Harry Potter. So going into its sequel, Insurgent (officially The Divergent Series: Insurgent, so that all of those alphabetization-happy tweens can find them right next to each other on their eventual iTunes downloads), I was a little puzzled trying to get myself re-acclimated to the world of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) and the ruined Chicago that they’re finding their way around sometime in the requisite dystopian future.

As the film begins, Tris and Four, alongside Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and the is-he-or-isn’t-he villain Peter (Miles Teller, the only member of the cast who appears to be having any fun), find themselves in Amity, which is a community of people who seem to be the halfway point between the Amish and old hippie communes. Though supposedly in possession of enough characteristics to pass as Amity, it isn’t long into their stay when Tris starts getting in fights and revealing too much of herself, often due to needling from Peter. And thus they’re soon exiled from Amity, and off to hang out with the Factionless, plotting their way into Erudite so that they can get to Jeanine (Kate Winslet), who they think is the source of all of their troubles.

I wasn’t in pain while watching Insurgent, but I didn’t find it very convincing, either, and as such am left generally not caring about the whole thing. The film establishes itself as being too reliant on dream sequences right from the very start, and most of the (many) action set pieces look dumb and aren’t compelling. Even among the few that hit the mark, such as one where Tris tries to save the memory of her mother (Ashley Judd) from a floating, burning house (you read that correctly), doesn’t have sufficient stakes—you know that A) Tris’ mom is already dead, and B) it’s not real anyway, even in the context of the movie. So who cares if she saves her or not? That said, that scene is surprisingly successful in instilling vertigo in the viewer, and marks the only point in the movie where I wasn’t actively wishing it wasn’t in 3-D (which it is, to otherwise ill-used effect).

One observation I had while my mind was drifting during a more boring sequence: The names “Four” and “Tris” together make “fortress,” which I’m sure wasn’t an accident, and points at the stability of them together as a team. (Yes, I know I should have realized this while watching Divergent, not Insurgent.) Maybe in the next movie, Allegiant, they’ll meet up with a couple named Saul and Étude, and then that will unlock Superman, and then this whole thing will turn into a DC Comics crossover. Hell, that would make about as much sense as Insurgent does. | Pete Timmermann

 

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