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Review: The Divergent Series: Insurgent

Kate Winslet and Shailene Woodley star in "The Divergent Series: Insurgent"

Divergent didn’t exactly win over as many people as its backers would have liked it to when it was released back in March of 2014. It did okay from a financial standpoint, but it also didn’t fare too well in terms of critical success. In order to fix either of those things, it’s clear there would need to be some changes with Insurgent, the second film in a franchise hoping to earn its way to your hearts before ultimately taking a fruitful trip to the bank.

Picking up where Divergent left off, Insurgent follows Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James) and the rest of the rebellious crew on the run as fugitives being hunted down Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her relentless forces looking to eradicate the bunch. The small group of rebels only hope to survive for now, but their larger plans consist of overtaking their oppressive superiors. In order to accomplish this, they need keep their faith in what they’re doing and find a new group of allies willing to assist in their valiant crusade.

Looking to surge forward in a big way with more action and a faster pace, Insurgent turns into something with the ability to only be incoherent and disjointed throughout its entire time on-screen. I appreciate the fact that there is a clear effort in trying to make this sequel better than its predecessor, but it’s not done as well as one would hope. It begins nicely, but it falters more and more as everything moves forward. That’s primarily because everything what is being dished out is flat and lifeless.

One of the reasons for this is due to the lack of any kind of a connection we’re able to feel with the characters outside of Shailene Woodley’s Tris. None of these guys are given a chance to be engaging, so it’s hard to care about any of them regardless of what side their on during this supposedly epic battle. When looking at it, most of them rarely show any actual emotion. With the way it’s structured, they’re obviously leaning on Woodley to do the heavy lifting.

From being emotional to being an action hero, Woodley is asked to be everything, but all this does is illustrate her shortcomings as an actress. She’s supposed to be an up and comer, but it’s hard to see her potential in Insurgent. Not only does she not look the part of an action star, but her acting simply isn’t good enough to carry a movie like this. Throughout the film, they rely solely on her to pass on the emotions of the film to its viewers, but she’s unable to do that in any way.

Because they faltered in these areas, none of it feels genuine or captivating in any sense. I would say that the absence of the training sessions is a positive, but they replace that stuff with testing sessions. These portions of Insurgent are just as boring as the training sessions in Divergent. They honestly need to do away with this feature in these young adult movies or make them better. They always seem include them and they’re not usually entertaining.

The only aspect of the film that can really be considered a positive one in Insurgent is Miles Teller’s performance. It didn’t take a genius to know he was too good for these kinds of films, but that fact is even more obvious this time around. Whenever he’s on-screen, he raises the level of the film’s entertainment value. It’s a shame that he doesn’t have more to do in this dull, illogical flick.

While Divergent kept much of its focus on training, Insurgent does the same with testing. I thought I was safe from these boring aspects of films from this genre, but they simply rearranged some things by adding it in a different way. Instead of watching Tris learn how to fight, we watch her go through a difficult that I won’t give too much detail on.

There aren’t many good things to say about Insurgent. There are a few things here that could conceivably work, but the film never allows it to with all of the stagnant storytelling to go with the soulless performances. Maybe giving the actors a chance to do more would have helped. When you have people who are actors of respectable quality in your film, it’s best if you allow them to do more than deliver lines with blank stares on their faces.

At the time of this review being written, I can’t tell you if Insurgent will do well enough financially to warrant a continuation of the franchise that hopes to capitalize on the popularity of The Hunger Games series. I will however say that based on the apathetic response from the crowd, it’s target audience may not be too pleased with the finished product. This could spell even more trouble since it looks as if they’re going to split the third novel into two films. Is it possible they’ll reconsider?

Rating: PG-13

Director: Robert Schwentke

Shailene Woodley
Theo James
Octavia Spencer
Jai Courtney
Miles Teller
Ray Stevenson
Zoe Kravtiz
Ansel Elgort
Mekhi Phifer
Maggie Q
Jonny Weston
Naomi Watts
Kate Winslet

Film Length: 110 minutes

Release Date: March 20, 2015

Distributor: Lionsgate Films

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