Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Review

Why do we call this The Divergent Series: Insurgent? Why not just Insurgent? For that matter, why do we call The Hunger Games sequels The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay instead of just Catching Fire and Mockingjay? Even The Maze Runner is falling into this trap by titling their sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Are the fans of these books going to forget what the sequel is called? Are they afraid that general audiences won't see a sequel unless it has a subtitle? If the latter is the case, wouldn't it solve it if they included somewhere in the marketing that this is the sequel to the first? I get it if that's the title of the book, but it's not. Why not just give the movie the same title? At least Maze Runner is smartly avoiding the too many"the's" issue with their title. Yes, I'm looking at you THE Hobbit: THE Desolation of Smaug and THE Hobbit: THE Battle of THE Five Armies. Oh well. I'm here to review a movie and not a movie title. At least they stylized the title well in this instance by making the "Insurgent" part really large while making the "The Divergent Series:" part really small. Sorry. I had to get that out. Now onto this movie.

In case you couldn't tell, The Divergent Series: Insurgent is the sequel to last March's Divergent and is the second movie in this popular young adult dystopian series. You know how these stories go. You have a tyrannical leader who's overthrown the previous government. The world is usually split into houses or districts or factions. You have a chosen one who's going to rise up and start a rebellion against this leader and there's usually a love triangle in the mix. If the book series is a trilogy, then the middle book is all about the rebellion getting into full gear. And of course when adapting the final book, it has to be split into movies. Yes, I'm getting kinda tired of these adaptions. However, if they can do it well or do something to set itself apart, then I'm still down. My big problem with Divergent is that it does neither. You want to claim that it's original and unique? Well then I will point out about a hundred things in that movie that are just a complete rip-off of something from another young adult series, mostly from The Hunger Games. In fact, as I was watching it just became completely and utterly ridiculous because the movie had absolutely nothing original and unique. To make things worse, it wasn't even done very well, so I couldn't even give it the "it wasn't original, but it was done well" card.

There's always hope that the sequel steps it up. I had little faith in this series based on the first one. Just like the honest trailer said, it's like Veronica Roth read The Hunger Games and said, "Hey I could change a few things in that and make a whole ton of money!" But hey, maybe it'll turn around. Trailers didn't do it for me. Reviews were close to being in the cellar. But I've still liked a movie despite those. And.... uhhh... nope. In fact, this went south from the already below average Divergent. The first thing I was looking at was the originality. Everything that Divergent did was ripped off of something else. Was Insurgent going to try to do something new? Well, we have the two leads trying to start a rebellion. We have the romantic tension. We have the double agents and betrayals. We have the dictator trying to stop the leads. So... nope. Nothing new. The bad thing, though, is that the movie was just boring. Plot was happening. It was a lot of plot that was going in lots of directions. I didn't care. I was uninterested. No surprising twists. No tension. Sure, some of the actions scenes were mildly entertaining, but the movie itself was just dull. Then you finish the movie and reflect on everything that happened and realize the whole things is just a complete mess.

One thing that this movie does have in its favor is an excellent cast. The sad thing is that this excellent cast all get misused and thus most of them looked bored. Shailene Woodley did a fine job as Tris. Personally, though, I'm not in love with her or her character. If, in theory, they kill her off in the very end of this series (I have not read the books, so this isn't a spoiler), I won't shed a tear. No emotional connection for me like I do with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Theo James as the "scary boyfriend" (that's a quote from the movie) was a dull character with the stupidest name. Four? Really? Ansel Elgort I actually loved in last year's The Fault in Our Stars. This time around he was completely off and uninteresting. Miles Teller was absolutely fantastic in Whiplash. This one he seemed like he was having some fun, but overall it just felt like he was there for a paycheck because he wasn't emotionally invested in his character. Not like he was in Whiplash anyways. Kate Winslett is one of the best actresses in the business. I love her. She played the President Snow figure in this and it just didn't work. She didn't feel menacing or evil. It wasn't her fault. It was just a horribly written villain. Octavia Spencer is in this. So is Daniel Dae Kim. And Naomi Watts. Ok? They don't do much. None are really interesting. Getting my vibe here? So many great cast members that just get wasted. I think my favorite character was actually Jai Courtney. He always does a great job at playing the idiot and he was great at that in this as well. But that was pretty much it.

Overall, I was not a fan of Divergent. I tried to go in with an open mind, hoping that this would be an improvement, but it wasn't. In fact, it was worse. I was bored. The story was dumb. The characters weren't interesting. I wasn't emotionally invested to anyone or anything. If a nuclear bomb randomly was launched and destroyed the whole world, I would've cheered. Good riddance! That said, if you are part of the group that actually loved Divergent and you are super excited for this, then go see it. You'll probably love this one as well. But if you were with me and you really didn't care for Divergent, yet you are hoping that this will convert you to the series, then just trust me. Skip this one. It's dumb. It's boring. It's not worth your time and money. It also officially convinced me that I will never touch this book series. My grade for Insurgent is a 5/10. 

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