I didn’t review “Divergent” when it first came out but I did eventually watch it when it showed up on DVD. I was not impressed.
I assumed being “divergent” was some alternative sci-fi term for “mutant” which was in turn an alternative term for “superhuman” and so I kept expecting laser beams to shoot out of Shailene Woodley’s eyes but it never happened. Disappointing.
Still, the movie did pretty well at the box office and the trailers for the sequel looked a lot more interesting so I figured I would give the series a second chance. “Insurgent” is more action-packed and interesting than the original but it still suffers from a really odd story and characters.
“Insurgent” is based on the second book in Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy. It’s set in a future world where people are divided up into five factions based on personality traits: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). Divergents are people who possess multiple traits and are therefore considered dangerous to society.
And here lies my problem with the whole series. I get that science fiction is often all about metaphor and allegory and whatnot but this is stupid. People don’t just have one character trait. You can be peaceful and honest, brave and intelligent. Divergence shouldn’t be the exception it should be the norm. Plus, being selfless, peaceful, honest, brave and intelligent isn’t nearly as cool as shooting laser beams out of your eyes.
Anyway, there’s this divergent named Tris (Shailene Woodley) who is on the run from the authorities with her boyfriend Four (Theo James), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and troublemaker Peter (Miles Teller). They did something in the last film to upset the head of state — Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) — but I don’t remember what.
Jeanine comes into possession of a mysterious box that can only be opened by a divergent. Jeanine really wants to open the box but not just any divergent can open it. You can guess which one can.
Tris and Four hook up with the underground rebel alliance — because all sci-fi dystopian thrillers have an underground rebel alliance — and it turns out Four’s estranged mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts) is the rebel leader. This distracted me not because it was some shocking plot twist, but because Evelyn hardly looked old enough to be Four’s mother.
Skipping over a bunch of stuff…Tris surrenders herself to Jeanine so she can go through a number of nifty special-effects trials and we can find out what the big secret is in the box.
I am beginning to think I am not the target audience for Young Adult material. I wasn’t a big “Harry Potter” fan although I appreciated the quality of the films; I hated the “Twilight” series and found nothing to appreciate there; I’m so-so on “The Hunger Games” and I’m hoping they don’t make any more “Maze Runners” for me to sit through. And those are just the ones I’ve seen.
As far as “Insurgent” goes, it’s a very mixed bag. I do like Woodley but I have a hard time finding such a skinny person can be such a badass fighter. I’m impressed with the talent lineup they have in the older characters. I’m not impressed by the dialogue a lot of the time. The story feels tired and played out.
If you got interested in seeing this movie after viewing the trailers (that did it for me) be warned that all the good special effects scenes are pretty much the last half-hour of the movie. It’s a slog to get there.