Review: Kathryn Waite


Runtime: 119 minutes

Rated: PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements, and brief language.

It is nothing short of amazing the number of plot lines and types of characters that the YA Dystopian novels can churn out. From large death battles, to worlds with youth plastic surgery, to giant killer mazes, there is no lack of concepts for novelists or even film directors to delve into. The only issue is, what happens when the market for young readers become oversaturated? You get lackluster book series getting screenplay contracts, which in turn morphs a trilogy read into a four-part drama (including at least four years of your life), which we can slightly blame Harry Potter on, but that is for another time. While Insurgent, the second installment in Veronica Roth’s trilogy, has many emotionally impactful parts to it, in a sea of films and stories like this it suffers the usual middle-movie slump.

Nearly 200 years into the future, the world as we know it is in ruins. All that remains is the walled up city of ruins, Chicago. The society inside of this place has determined that the best way to keep peace and harmony amongst each other is to divide into five different character-based groups. Erudite (brains), Candor (honesty), Abnegation (self-sacrificing), the Dauntless (brave), and the Amity (heart) make up the factions. Those who do not fit in to any group become the beggars and ruffians of the city, called Factionless. There are also those who fit into more than one group, they care called Divergent (oh look! The series title!) and are considered a “dangerous threat to society” by the villainous Erudite leader, Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Her goal is to eliminate all Divergents hiding amongst the city in hopes to bring peace back to their home… or so it would appear. We follow lead heroine and conveniently Divergent Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her loyal-to-a-fault boyfriend Four (Theo James) as they try to convince the different factions that Jeanine’s intentions are rooted in a sinister plot. While trying to help the factions see the truth, the pair must also hide from Jeanine’s troops who will stop at nothing to capture her and attempt to perform a mysterious experiment on her that will push Tris to her limit.

While the real action sequences are spread evenly throughout the film, the movie does not utilize the actors to their full potential. We get a glimpse of Woodley’s acting prowess during an interrogation scene that is very emotional for her character. Her ability to completely dive into a role cannot be overstated. Even Winslet as the steely Jeanine was spot on, despite only having scenes that required little emotion on her part. The rest of the cast is left in the dust. Poor Miles Teller (who plays Tris’ Dauntless rival Peter) is barely given a chance to show is real acting chops in the installment. Hopefully the writers and directors will take note of this issue and correct it before the final films.

The cinematography in Insurgent is well done and beautiful to see in 3D. All of the simulator scenes throughout are stunning to watch. Just like in Divergent, this film helps create the environment of simulators in a way that is not only understandable but as disorienting for the audience as it is for the character experiencing it. I would recommend catching this one in 3D if you are fan of the franchise.

Insurgent is rated PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements, and brief language. There is one sensual scene between Tris and Four, but very little is actually seen and their actions are more implied. What I do find important to note is how the story not only deals with violence, but how it affects those who did the fighting and survived. You see guilt, anger, depression, and bitterness throughout the film which is rare to see in YA action films. Tris knows that there are consequences to any of her actions and wants to minimize the number of people who get hurt. I admire the film for staying true to the book in that way.

I give Insurgent four out of five Factionless Mohawks. It is definitely not the most original pick of the YA bunch, but with this solid cast of actors, beautiful camera work, and a willingness to look past the violence, this film stands out a little bit more. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t push past the middle-movie slump.

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119 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller