Opening 19 Mar 2015
Writing credits: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback, Veronica Roth
Principal actors: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney
After the popular Hunger Games trilogy, a slew of other dystopian-light teen novels with a female protagonist were written. Among those was the highly popular Divergent series by the young author Veronica Roth. The novels take place in a future where the population of a walled-in, decaying city has been split into numerous factions based on a person’s personality. In the first film Divergent (2014), we are introduced to the lead character Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley), a girl facing her choosing ceremony where she must take a test to find out which faction she should live in. During the test Beatrice discovers that she is fit for more than one faction, a rare anomaly which makes her “Divergent” and therefore in great danger because the powers-to-be consistently hunt down the Divergent and kill them. Beatrice successfully hides this from the authorities, but soon thereafter one of the factions decides to take over the city via mind control and she is one of the few who is able to resist. The sequel Insurgent follows her and her love interest Tobias (Theo James) in the aftermath of the coup d’état as they try to find a way to overthrow the new regime run by the cruel Jeanine (Kate Winslet).
The first thing that really needs to be said is that Insurgent, unlike its predecessor Divergent, is extremely different from the book. This is undoubtedly going to be a great disappointment for fans. The story of the novel has been changed to focus on how special Beatrice is in comparison to others. Jeanine and her faction are trying to get all of the Divergents so that they can be tested to open a box that was discovered at Beatrice’s parents’ house. Of course, Beatrice is the only one who is able to open this and becomes a sort of martyr figure throughout. In the novel, there is a lot more focus on faction politics and on the development of serums which have vital importance in the next book. It is clear to see why the screenwriters decided to change the plot, for they turned the story into a concise action film. However, as the fan base is from the book series, such a large departure from the novel is probably not wise and will inevitably lead to disappointed fans.
In addition, it just isn’t a very good movie. Okay sure, it is relatively entertaining, but when one takes even a moment to consider it, Insurgent is just like the Hunger Games. There is the self-sacrificing, damaged heroine, the society divided up into arbitrary sections according to skill sets, and the “evil” leader who needs to be put down by the heroine. And this is just one of many books/films following exactly the same tropes which just lead to it being extremely boring after a while. Also, Shailene Woodley, despite being a teen-movie superstar right now, has all of the emotive skills of a first year acting student who is trying so hard to prove she has talent, which really doesn’t help the film at all. All that remains is a fairly fast-paced young-adult action film that is completely different from the source material, with an over-used story, and a terrible actress in the lead role. There is really little to recommend it, so don’t waste your time or money on this one. (Rose Finlay)