Diverging from Expectations: Insurgent

Photo courtesy of IMDb.com

Photo courtesy of IMDb.com

Rachel Tropp ‘16
EE Senior Entertainment Editor

On March 18th, the highly-anticipated sequel to the hit movie Divergent was released in theaters. To the disappointment of the franchise’s many fans, Insurgent did not live up to its predecessor’s greatness. Despite its star-studded cast and enormous budget, the movie fell flat, with a confusing and counterintuitive plot and recycled storylines that made it seem like a cheap knock-off of every young adult movie from the past fifteen years.

At the start of the film, several months have seemingly passed since the events of the first movie. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are on the run, along with Tris’s brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and the duo’s frenemy, Peter (Miles Teller). They have taken refuge with Amity, but Jeanine (Kate Winslet) has started a search for all Divergents, as she needs them to open up a box with a message from the founders of their society.

The main plot of the movie centers around Jeanine’s quest to open the box, but many underdeveloped plot points stem from there. For one, Four’s mother, who looks younger than the actor who plays Four, makes a surprise appearance as the leader of the Factionless, in a stunning repetition of the common fantasy plot in which characters reunite with their unknown parents, a plot most famous from Darth Vader’s “Luke, I am your father.”

This plot theft was only the beginning: the movie basically proceeded to make Tris a “Chosen One” of Harry Potter proportions; then, she tried to kill herself to defy her captors, just like Katniss in the Hunger Games, only to be thought dead in another copycat of Harry Potter.

Worse, within the first twenty minutes of the movie, Tris punched at least two people in the face, and several fights broke out for very little cause. In fact, throughout the movie there was a ridiculous amount of gratuitous violence, and also a gratuitous, ahem, PG-13 rated scene between Tris and Four at a point that made no sense. It got so ludicrous my friend leaned over to me and whispered, “This isn’t a comedy…so why are we laughing?” This question basically sums up the entire movie.

Honestly, the suspension of disbelief required to remotely follow the plot was extremely taxing. Jeanine’s evil villain motives often weren’t backed up with reason; yes, it has been established she is evil, but there is no explanation for why she would act so cruelly and unreasonably, for all her supposed erudition, just in the pursuit of power. The fact that her followers even continued listening to her bizarre and self-serving instructions makes no sense.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the movie had “holes in the premise” and “narrative deficiencies.” This puts it lightly; the movie was shaky at best, annoying at worst. Tris spends half the movie feeling bad for herself because of the deaths she thinks she has caused, yet she spends the other half trying to kill people. Her Amity and Candor qualities, which so rarely reveal themselves in her actual personality, appear just in time to prove she is the “true” Divergent, which allows her to open the box so central to the plot.

All the intriguing parts of the first movie were exhausted by its sequel, and a repeat of the injected control serum idea was much less endearing the second time around. Even the attempt to further involve other factions, especially Amity and Candor, in the sequel seemed forced and all of the events involving both factions were extremely over dramatic.

The best parts of the movie were the appearances by Hawaii Five-O actor Daniel Dae Kim and The Help actress Octavia Spencer, both of whom are very talented and did a great job as the leaders of Candor and Amity, respectively, despite the limitations of the film. Miles Teller also shined in his witty and wise-cracking portrayal of the double-double-crosser Peter.

If you have a spare afternoon, rent the DVD. But honestly, don’t spend $10.50 to see the movie in theaters. It just isn’t worth it.

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