I know plenty have hated the Divergent Series thus far and although hardly great, I found portions at least semi-entertaining but that’s about it. Unlike Hunger Games: Catching Fire and to a lesser extent Mockingjay Part 1, Insurgent just kind of “is”. There’s nothing really memorable and the performances are limited thanks to a screenplay that could’ve been better.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Suspense/Thriller
Summit | PG13 – 119 min. – $35.99 | August 4, 2015
THE MOVIE – 2.75/5
!!Note: This review contains plot SPOILERS. Readers beware!!
2014’s Divergent wasn’t great but I found it to be passable entertainment insomuch that there was at least some potential where they were taking the story at the end as our heroes were on the train headed outside the Wall. Now we get the not-so-eagerly anticipated sequel, Insurgent or I should say The Divergent Series: Insurgent in case anyone gets confused and like many middle sections of trilogies, it’s a bit of a mess.
This sequel finds the outcasts – Tris (SHAILENE WOODLEY), Four (THEO JAMES), Peter (MILES TELLER) and Caleb (ANSEL ELGORT) – working on a farming community in Amity being protected by its leader, Johanna (OCTAVIA SPENCER). There’s disagree about what to do next with Four wanting to stay put while Tris wants to go back into the city to exact revenge on Jeanine Matthews (KATE WINSLET) for the death of her and Caleb’s parents (TONY GOLDWYN, ASHLEY JUDD).
Meanwhile, following the battle from Divergent, Jeanine has broadcast a nationwide pronouncement/propaganda blaming the mass casualties, which were done at her hands, on the Divergent and their allies as they want to disrupt and destroy their symbiotic factioned society. At the same time, her minions, led by Eric (JAI COURTNEY), find a box bearing the faction symbols, being protected by Tris’ deceased parents. However, this box, which Jeanine believes holds a message from the founders, can only be opened by a divergent and more to the point, a powerful one as she discovers. Wonder who that one person could be?
Tris and Four, with Peter going Judas on them and running to Jeanine, manage to escape the grips of Eric and his killing crew, onto a train car where they come upon a unit from the factionless where, upon learning Four’s birth name, Tobias Eaton, lead them to their headquarters to meet their leader, Evelyn (NAOMI WATTS), who happens to be Four’s mother. Needless to say, Four and his mum aren’t on friendly terms, given he thought she was dead and all… Although he needs the support of the factionless in combination with the Dauntless to fight against Jeanine and her forces, Four refuses to align himself with Evelyn.
Tris and Four go into the city to find support amongst the Candor clan and instead are detained for their supposed war crimes, though after going through a rigorous test, a lie detector of sorts, they pass though not without dredging up painful memories for Tris. This also causes a rift with best friend Christina (ZOE KRAVITZ) for killing her boyfriend in the previous film.
In the meantime, Jeanine is still out to find someone to open the box and sends her mercenaries to scour each faction including Candor where they manage to weed out the Divergence of various proportions before discovering Tris is 100% divergent. However, before she’s hauled off, Four and the Candor army come to her aid and in the process Eric is captured and in a refreshing moment, he’s actually executed rather than left alive to cause havoc later on.
Insurgent isn’t very good but at the same time, it’s a safe and adequate time-waster; the kind of film you probably won’t remember very much about hours afterward. The acting is so-so but do as well as they could with a limited script and a thin romantic subplot. Shailene Woodley is generally a good actress but here she seems to be a discount Jennifer Lawrence. Taking over the directing duties from Neil Burger is Robert Schwentke, director of RED, RIPD and Flightplan. I doubt anyone will confuse Schwentke for being great but he’s a serviceable guy even if his resume is a bit mixed.
All in all, I thought Insurgent wasn’t terrible but this is coming from someone who has never read any of the novels nor do I have any desire to (ditto on The Hunger Games for the record) and although there are plenty of problems with the story, it’s passable, nothing more or less.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.75/5
This release comes with a lenticular slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Audio Commentary – Producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher provide a ho-hum and unnecessary track especially considering the limited info they can provide. Not sure why a few more participants couldn’t have been added.
Insurgent Unlocked: The Ultimate Behind-the-Scenes Access (1:56:34; HD) is an extensive, 7-part making-of documentary/picture-in-picture feature, looking at the various aspects of making the movie from the story, characters and music amongst other topics.
From Divergent to Insurgent (5:09; HD) – This goes into the comparisons between the first movie setting up the world and characters versus its sequel and the story it wanted/needed to tell.
The Others: Cast and Characters (3:40; HD) looks at the new actors in Insurgent.
Anatomy of a Scene: The Train Fight (4:01; HD) breaks down one of the first scenes including the chorography behind it.
The Peter Hayes Story (2:40; HD) is a profile on the Peter character played by Miles Teller.
Divergent: Adapting Insurgent to the Screen (4:00; HD) looks at the writing aspects from the novels to the screen and the necessary changes.
The Marketing Gallery includes a Sneak Peek (2:45) at Insurgent; a Sneak Peek w/ Introduction by Shailene Woodley; In-Theater Promotion Making-of (1:33; HD) featurette; HBO First Look (12:38; HD) featurette; five Theatrical Trailers and an Image Gallery.
Previews – The Last Witch Hunter, The Age of Adaline, The DUFF, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
VIDEO – 5.0/5
Summit Entertainment releases Insurgent onto Blu-ray presented in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a brilliant 1080p high-definition transfer. Details are incredible and sharp especially with close-up shots while skin tones appear to be natural in spite of the darker tone of the film. Colors seem to be even enough and there weren’t any apparent flaws like artifacting, aliasing or pixilation.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
Not to be outdone, the film received the relatively new Dolby TrueHD Atmos track (7.1 channels for systems unable to decode Atmos). The track is fantastic from beginning to end supporting excellent audio on both the lower and higher ends. Dialogue levels are crystal clear and when we get to the numerous action-oriented scenes, the full thrust of this lossless track comes to life.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, I know plenty have hated the Divergent Series thus far and although hardly great, I found portions at least semi-entertaining but that’s about it. Unlike Hunger Games: Catching Fire and to a lesser extent Mockingjay Part 1, Insurgent just kind of “is”. There’s nothing really memorable and the performances are limited thanks to a screenplay that could’ve been better. The Blu-ray released by Summit offers a fair amount of bonus material while the video/audio transfers are both reference quality.
Brian Oliver aka The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.