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Review: “Insurgent” Makes for a Lousy Rebellion

By Chad Alexander

“Insurgent” is yet another young adult dystopian movie, starring a daring teenage girl trying to overthrow the corrupt government. The film is the sequel to “Divergent,” starring the same cast as the original, with some newbies thrown in the mix. So, how does it hold up overall?

Acting
Shailene Woodley stars as Tris, the reluctant leader of rebel forces committed to taking down the faction system in a post-apocalyptic world. In the beginning of the film, she’s feisty and ready to defend her friends and her own honor. As the film progresses, Tris becomes more restrained, as if a switch was flipped. She then declares to her mother in a simulation that she is scared. There’s no clear reason for this in the film (from what I can tell), and the preceding actions make little sense.

Theo James portrays Tris’s boyfriend, Four. Four doesn’t have much of a character arc. He’s there for Tris. And that’s pretty much it. Sure, there’s some drama with his estranged mother, but it is predictable and one note.

Miles Teller plays Peter, one of the antagonists to Tris. In “Divergent” he was such a pain that I hated him as a villain, but in a good way. Here I groaned, as his character became more of a comedic relief. I liken it to transforming Darth Vader into a young kid.

The other actors in the film, including the impressive Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet, do not help the film. Sure, they give great performances, but everything about the script is so predictable or forced that the acting comes off as blasé.

Sound
Nothing major here. There are times when the soundtrack comes off as being emotional or epic, but it is ultimately forgettable. The sci-fi world in the film doesn’t have much in the terms of sound effects. Everything seems very basic or heard from other films. It makes sense, since this film is to be set in the future after a nuclear war.

Cinematography
This is probably my biggest gripe with the film. Every shot seems like an opportunity for the director to show off some computer-generated imagery (CGI). It’s alright, but nothing special.
Let me give you an example. Tris has given herself over to the Erudite authorities, most notably Jeanine, in an attempt to save the Factionless/other rebel fighters from becoming brainwashed by Jeanine (long story, not that compelling).

Tris is submitted in a large glass room where Jeanine can monitor her while Tris is plugged into a simulation. Here’s where the film grinds my gears. Instead of putting Jeanine in a position of power in the film, most of her shots are near center of the frame, looking through the glass. Anytime Tris is revealed, she has a close up or something extreme that places Tris in power. Sure, Jeanine should be cold and removed from Tris, but this is not the way to convey Jeanine’s aloofness. It also does something to the film that was not so evident in the prequel “Divergent.” The audience knows that Tris will make it out of this alive. This is just another “struggle” that she has to go through.

To be honest, it’s a struggle for me to watch this film.

Sets/Locations
I will say, the sets here are more colorful and interesting than those in “Divergent.” This is both a blessing and a curse. The warm hues of the Amity refuge do not convey the impending threat of the Erudite. Everything is very happy and peaceful, without a feeling of something being off. I really like the sets, it just seems that they do not convey the tension and dread of the first film. Tris’s life is on the edge of the knife. She will be fine with all of the help from her loyal insurgent crew.

All in all, “Insurgent” does not live up to its predecessor. Even for audiences who may not be familiar with the previous film, I would not recommend this to them, either. The film’s technical flaws, overreliance on CGI, and poor characterization make it a chore to watch and only loved by fans loyal to the series.

Read Chad’s other review’s.

Chad Alexander is a mild-mannered government contractor by day and a pretty normal sleeper by night. He has been dedicated to freelance writing for the last decade — writing scripts, short stories, and blogging in his spare time. He reads constantly, plays board games in his spare time, and enjoys a fine 20 oz of Cherry Coke whenever he’s feeling dangerous.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed by contributing writer’s are their own and may not necessarily reflect the views of Fredericksburg.Today.

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