Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Octavia Spencer, Suki Waterhouse, Naomi Watts, Jonny Weston, Daniel Dae Kim, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lamb, Maggie Q, Rosa Salazar, Keiynan Lonsdale, Emjay An
RunTime: 1 hr 59 mins
Rating: PG13 (Violence & Brief Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: http://divergentthemovie.com
Opening Day: 19 March 2015
Synopsis: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.
I’ll admit that I was among the minority that enjoyed Divergent and really wanted to like the sequel. But when the source material is as absurd as this, I doubt any effort from the crew or its talented cast could save the film from making audiences go “what?!”. There is clearly a ton of support from fans and the industry alike for this franchise, arguably more than that for The Hunger Games, to really transcend the YA genre. However, what disapponts is ultimately its writing.
On both the book and its script.
In Insurgent, we have a great wealth of Oscar-nominated actresses and it’s strange why so many would feel a connection to the project. The talents of Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer and Kate Winslet are totally wasted in the movie, all given only dimensionless cartoon characters to work with. Winslet fared the worse, her faux ice-cool attitude came across cringe-worthy at times. That is not the end of its casting problems. Up-and-coming talents like Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Ansel Elgort, while given the bulk of the film’s screentime, could only do their best to elevate their poorly-written lines. Ironically, all were in last summer’s The Fault In Our Stars, a much more emotionally complex film.
Woodley is a future star. You can see that clearly in a film where she was one of the only saving grace. She’s not Jennifer Lawrence-level yet but there’s no reason to believe that she would not reach there ultimately. These two actresses have tons of similarities and they both possess the same asset, relatability. In a movie so far-fetched you could almost hear the director chuckle while filming, Woodley is the one human element in a movie that desperately needed it. In one particular scene in which Tris, her character, was made to tell the truth, the pain and anguish she so powerfully portrayed was sent straight through the screen to audiences and it was incredible to watch. The same cannot be said of Theo James, who only serves to be the mandatory eye-candy in what was a shockingly wooden and might I say, unlikable, performance.
That may not entirely be his fault. The screenplay, written by Brain Duffield, Akvia Goldsman and Mark Bomback, had no soul to it. Character intentions possesed no development and by the end of the movie, audiences were forced to accept so many ridiculous plot points that had no motivations behind them. Now, that may also not entirely be the writers’ fault because its source material written by Veronica Roth is really testing the realms of believabillity. Regardless, there was a lot of could have been done to better translate the story into the big screen, but the effort ultimately felt lazy.
Not everything was awful though. The cinematography looked stunning, almost video game-like, and its pacing was tense enough to create an entertaining piece of cinema. This movie knew its target audience and did away with any cheesy message, which really helped moved the film briskly enough. Despite the horrible twist that we all knew had to be coming, the cool looking visuals did more than enough to tide audiences through its glaring problems. We should also applaud the film’s choice of using non-white actors for a few roles, even though the decision had no important purpose to it.
The third book is reportedly being split into 2 parts, similar to its big sister, The Hunger Games. However, theatres are quickly becoming over-saturated with movies so similar in message and plot that the film’s producers should really consider finishing off the franchise as quickly as possible. Insurgent contained so much that had already been seen in previous Maze Runner and Hunger Games movies that audiences are rapidly tiring of it. In doing so, a more thought-out script that has a decent amount of development could be focused on, while mantaining the pacing of its predecessors.
(Only for fans of the book, its cast or the genre. Or if you enjoy a few cynical laughs)
Review by Brandon Chua