Insurgent (Robert Schwentke, 2015)
With a new director and screenwriters at the helm, Insurgent is the second and latest instalment in the Divergent trilogy. It looks mostly the same as last year’s Divergent, except that Tris (Shailene Woodley) has that pixie haircut going (after The Fault in Our Stars massacred her long locks last year). She looks a hell of a lot older and about a foot taller, though considering she’s well past the growth-spurt age, I think it’s just the hair.
After finding temporary refuge at the Amity camp, Tris, Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles Teller) soon find themselves being hunted down by Jeanine’s army. Jeanine (Kate Winslet) wants Tris more than ever after discovering that she may be the key to unlocking a mysterious box found in her parents’ house. Tris is still coming to terms with the deaths of her parents, and wants nothing more than to defeat her enemy, though maybe her biggest enemy is actually HERSELF (it’s deep, yo).
Tris holds her own more in the second instalment, however she still gets her arse saved by supporting male characters time and time again. It’s an improvement, but she’s still no Katniss. Similarly to last time, some valuable messages are conveyed regarding both the power of being different, and the importance of self-love. If I was Shailene Woodley I know I’d be loving myself sick.
Shailene is surrounded by lovers here: her The Spectacular Now boyfriend Miles Teller is now trying to screw her over, while her The Fault in Our Stars one true love Ansel Elgort is back as her brother (a little creepy seeing as they totally did it in TFIOS). Theo James is head over heels in lurve with her again, and no doubt the fangirls will be giggling with glee at seeing her in the presence of all three of these fine specimens at once. Teller in particular is a treasure, even if his character is a bit of a wank. Bigger stars pop up in smaller roles – in addition to Kate Winslet and Ashley Judd as Tris’ mother, this second instalment introduces Naomi Watts as Four’s mother Evelyn, Octavia Spencer as Amity leader Johanna, and Daniel Dae Kim as Candor leader Jack Kang. These names lend the film some credibility, however it’s really all about the young adults here. And by that, I mean the actors who are meant to pass for sixteen year olds.
The first thirty minutes or so do lag, and had me expecting a boring couple of hours to come. However, once the action builds, it appears that Insurgent is in good hands under the direction of Robert Schwentke. The action scenes are edited well and utilise impressive visual effects (it may be worthwhile paying the extra to watch it in 3D). These sequences remain engaging throughout, which is more than can be said of other films of late. Tris’ participation in various simulations is particularly enjoyable, though I did wonder why in such a high-tech setting Jeanine had to nurse a tablet when almost all other tasks used holographic projections.
The Divergent series still isn’t close to matching The Hunger Games in the young adult genre, but comparisons aside, it still manages to offer a fresh take on a dystopian future. The ending of Insurgent certainly provoked my interest – even if it was uncannily similar to that of last year’s The Maze Runner – and I await the final instalment, Allegiant, with bated breath. Except it’s being split into two films. Of freakin’ course.