Sunday, August 16, 2015

DVD: Insurgent

The second installment in the Divergent movie franchise was released in theaters in early 2015 and was recently released on DVD. 

Insurgent is a much more mature film than its predecessor in that it includes a sex scene, plenty of murders that are shown off screen including the murder of Jeanine and some bloody scenes involving one on one violence.LIke the first film,  Insurgent is packed with action, plot twists, and moments of romance and betrayal.

Where Insurgent succeeds is in telling the story in a more cohesive and succinct way than did the novel. Usually it's the other way around, but the hot mess that Insurgent was as a novel, has been significantly cleaned up in the movie due to good screenwriting. The movie differs significantly from the novel from the very beginning. For example, Eric is never put on trial but is simply shot by Four when the Dauntless traitors led by Eric attack Candor. Evelyn murders Jeanine rather than Tori and there is no secret box discovered under Tris's parents home. In the novel, Jeanine's development of a new simulation that is capable of affecting almost all Divergents is the driving force behind Tris's determination to take her down. The effect of the simulation was only a small part of the movie. However, the creation of the box containing a  message from the founders that only the Divergent can open, creates a bridge between Insurgent and Allegiant that did not exist in the novels.

Exciting action scenes, such as when Four is being chased from the Amity community and he races to beat the train which will separate him from Eric and the soldiers, are the mainstay of the movie. However, these same action scenes are part of a weaker aspect of the movie because Shailene Woodley, with her (too) slim build and lack of musculature, doesn't come across as capable of the physical feats shown.

Woodley's performance is not as strong in Insurgent, where she lacks the same connection with the character of Beatrice that was present in the first movie. Several excellent scenes were designed to demonstrate the internal conflict Tris is experiencing over the death of her friend Will and her parents; when she experiences the truth serum of Candor and is questioned by Jack Kang and when she fights through the Dauntless sim involving her mother. Woodley also seemed to struggle recapturing the connection between her character, Tris Prior and her mentor and companion Tobias Eaton known as Four, that was so powerful in the first movie. The actress admits that it was challenging to establish that connection when they filmed the Amity scenes at the beginning of the movie because they were so different from the Dauntless scenes in Divergent.

Miles Teller who plays Peter, one of the pivotal characters in the novel, impresses in Insurgent mainly because his performance as the traitorous Peter who saves Tris is believable.  Insurgent also introduces the Factionless, those who do not fit in with any faction or have left their faction. The leader of the Factionless is Evelyn, Four's mother played by Naomi Watts who seemed, at first glance, too young for the role in some scenes. Of course this leads into another problem involving casting for this movie series. Four is played by the handsome Theo James who is thirty years old but who must play an eighteen year old man - and eleven year age difference. James is excellent in the role, looks the part physically, and exudes a kind of hero image, but he doesn't look nineteen. To get around this problem, in the movie he is said to be twenty-four which makes his relationship with sixteen year old Tris creepy.

Overall, Insurgent is a good second movie in the dystopian series. It will be interesting to see how the final book is presented as a two part movie.

The final novel in Veronica Roth's series, Allegiant will be split into two movies, the first of which will be released March 18, 2016.

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