Last summer I became a bit of a recluse as I planted myself by the pool and tore through the entire Divergent series in about a week. Almost immediately I became absorbed in this world about a faction driven society and the headstrong protagonist that didn’t fit in it. When first reading Insurgent, I remember questioning how the filmmakers would be able to fully satisfy the fans that have read the series. With Divergent, I wasn’t as concerned–it’s driven by action and acts simply as an introduction to that world as well as a setup for the climax of the series. However, Insurgent is different. Yes, the story continues with the conflict against a physical enemy in the form of Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) leader of the Erudite faction, but simultaneously the story is as much about the psychological demons in Tris Prior’s mind.
The second movie picks up right where the last on let off–on the wreckage of what used to be the Abnegation housing compound. The movie opens with the simplistic cement buildings in ruins as Dauntless traitors salvage for a mysterious box that Jeanine wants. Ultimately, they find the box, return it to the Erudite headquarters, and discover that in order to open the box, they need a Divergent and must prove that they belong in all five of the factions.
As is to be expected with any adaptation, there are apparent differences between the film and the book. It’s clear that the filmmakers made a conscious effort to try and include every plot point, but some of it, for example Four’s relationship with his mother and the Faction-less community, was rushed so quickly that unless you had the background knowledge from the book, you may have missed it or at least missed why it is significant.
Similarly, I was confident, after the success of the first film, that the action scenes would be taken care of, but I didn’t know how they would adequately demonstrate that all that Tris does is driven by the guilt and grief she feels. So while I wasn’t so much worried about how the director would stage the scene when Dauntless traitors storm Candor in search of the Divergent, which, may I add, was done beautifully, but rather how they would illustrate the role that Tris’s emotions are playing into the decisions she makes–most importantly when she gives herself up to the Erudite forces. Although this was, thankfully, done successfully I think that it can be accredited to Shailene Woodley’s evident appreciation of who Tris is as a character rather than the screenplay itself.
I would say that the performances are what saved the film as the script was, at times, lacking. I remain thankful that these actors were entrusted to portray my favorite characters because regardless of the individual backstories that was excluded from the film, all of the major the characters managed to have the same depth that they do in the book. A real strength of this film is through the supporting role of Miles Teller as he continues to shine as Peter Hayes. Teller’s comedic timing and expert use of beats skillfully brings to life the whiplash we feel as we alternate between hate and love for his character.
Although, I did really enjoy the film as a whole, but I’ll admit I was disappointed by the score, which was composed by Joseph Trapanese. While his original melodies were beautiful and haunting, I thought the electronic backing of re-mastered Ellie Goulding songs combined with the score composed by Junkie XL that accompanied the first film was a much better fit for this dystopian universe.
Insurgent is playing now in theaters everywhere. Below, check out a sneak-peak scene.
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Insurgent Review: Featured image courtesy of Lionsgate Publicity. Other images courtesy of Andrew Cooper