Monday, March 23, 2015

Insurgent Review: A Tiring Yet Enticing Continuation

Over the years many popular novels, or Young Adult series, have become major motion pictures. From Harry Potter to The Hunger Games, popular books series have managed to become hit movie franchises. Well perhaps hit is a inappropriate title as several studios have tried to adapt popular YA novels; only for the movies to fail in some form or way. Fortunately for Summit,The Divergent Series does not fall into that category. Last year, Summit Entertainment found a new franchise in Veronica Roth's sci-fi book series dealing with factions and those who are divergent. The first film hit theaters last March and received a fair reception. I on the other hand did not care for Divergent. I did not hate the movie, but there were several elements about Divergent that bothered me; such as its underwhelming presentation. However my dilemma with Divergent did not prevent the second installment, Insurgent, from hitting theaters. From watching the trailer, the second installment looked to be a bigger film. While I had my skepticism about Insurgent, perhaps this sequel could improve the series and make me a believer in The Divergent Series. The end result was something that was tolerable believer, but did not make me a fan of the series.

The plot of Insurgent takes place three days after the events of the first film. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the rest of Eurdite. Along with her companion/boyfriend Four (Theo James), Tris discover the Factionless who are led by Four's mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts). As a rebellion begins to form, Trice discovers that Jeanine needs her to open an ancient artifact that is said to bring order back to the system.

As movie plots go, Insurgent's story is by no means bad. The plot does expand the world of Divergent and the pacing was good enough to keep my attention. However, there was something that bugged me about the movie's story. When thinking about it, it occurred to me that the issue I had with Insurgent's plot was a matter of consistency and originality. The fact of the matter is that I have seen this kind of story in other movies, and I keep seeing it. The plot points for Insurgent have been done so many times that it was hard for me to be surprised.  Plus the major twists to the story can be seen a mile away. Because of these issues, I was not fully invested with the plot of Insurgent. Again, as a film story goes, Insurgent is not bad; but there is not much to it.

With a franchise like The Divergent Series, you should expect to see a massive ensemble. Insurgent does expand the Divergent's established cast; but unfortunately, it does not do much with its talented ensemble. Shailene Woodley carries this factor as Tris. Though Tris was a decent character and Woodley does a fantastic job as the lead, there was not much to this heroine. Tris' conflict was reasonable, but her development was a bit generic. Though I did not like Four in the first film, I found myself tolerating the character in this sequel due to his backstory being established. Though I liked the two leads, I did not like the relationship between Tris and Four. While Shailene and Theo do the best they can together, the relationship between Tris and Four was too cliched for my taste.

Though the movie had a stellar supporting cast, it did not seem know how to use them. A supporting cast with limited time can be effective if the characters are allowed to shine. Unfortunately, Divergent does not do that with its ensemble as the characters felt either underwhelming or useless. While the likes of Naomi Watts, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort and Octavia Spencer are great actors in their own rights, I felt that their characters did not bring much to the table. The same thing can be said about Kate Winslet as Jeanine. Winslet does her best but the character of Jeanine is just your typical antagonist.  Though the cast itself was not bad, the ensemble suffers from lacking characterizations and not even the leads could break out of this dilemma.

With this series being one full of action, Insurgent had plenty of intense moments. From chase sequences to fight scenes, the action of Insurgent did deliver in a subtle way. One factor that stood out in the first film were the simulation scenes that Tris had to go through. While the story to Insurgent then its predecessor, the dream sequences found a way into this adaption. It was clear that these scenes were meant to be a big factor in the movie's success; and I have to say the simulation sequences did pay off. Blending 3D effects with solid action, these scenes were no doubt exciting as well as compelling to see. While this factor may not have saved the overall presentation, the scenes did give Insurgent something to call its own.

While I did up liking Insurgent more then I did Divergent, I cannot say this movie is flawless. While factors like  story and characters were not bad, both did falter due to tiring ideas that have been done over and over again. Again, this is not to say Insurgent is a bad film. The movie can be interesting, the cast does a fine job and the film featured plenty of exciting moments. While Insurgent did not win me over, I can say that this second installment is indeed passable.

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