Last year, the adaptation of the first novel in Veronica Roth’s “Divergent Trilogy,” “Divergent,” was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews. This was not that big of a surprise however, as the film had a long list of problems that included, but was not limited to, a recycled and stretched-out plot and flat, uninteresting characters. However, after a global intake of about $288 million, all of that became completely irrelevant to the folks in charge, and now we are faced with the adaptation of the second book in Roth’s series, “Insurgent,” where we can only hope that the multiple issues have been worked out.
Picking up right after the events of the first film, we find Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), and a few of their friends hiding out with the members of the Amity faction. Meanwhile, Jeanine (Kate Winslet), leader of the Erudite, continues hunting them, not only for ruining her plans to take over, but also because she believes that one of them is a divergent that can help her open a mysterious box said to contain a very important message. Tris and her companions eventually come up with a plan that involves reuniting with their Dauntless companion so that, with a little unexpected help from the Factionless, they can put a stop to Jeanine for good, but, just as before, they find that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
For those of you who were hoping for improvement from the first film to the second, it would probably be best to break it to you now and let you know that all of the problems that plagued the first adaptation continue to weaken the franchise as we move into what is supposed to be the continuation of the story. We have the same dull, lifeless characters that continue to go undeveloped, giving us little reason to get attached to them or their cause, and a plot that is still stretched as tight as can possibly be over a two-hour runtime. However, it is that second issue that dominates this outing. Whereas in the first film, the plot would at least move forward every now and again, this time around, the plot practically stands still for almost the entire film.
For its first hour, Tris and her friends do little more than travel from place to place in their attempts to evade their enemies, while the second entails Jeanine forcing Tris to try and open the box, which can only be done by completing five simulations that represent the five factions. One of these, Dauntless, actually takes a little skill, while the other four involve Tris trying to discover very basic things about herself. All-in-all, this half is about as exciting as trying to open a box sounds, concluding with a message that just about anyone could have guessed.
Put these two halves together and you once again have a film that does little more than meander about for its over-extended runtime, leaving the audience with a rather forgettable experience, and even more so when compared to its young adult counterparts. That being said, we’ll still be getting the final part of the trilogy in the next couple of years, which will be following the same pattern as other big franchises by splitting it into two films, a move that has done more harm than good as we’ve seen with “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” (i.e. both have had weak first parts). It’s rare for the third film in a cinematic trilogy to be the best part, but perhaps that’s where they’ll finally deliver the goods, even if it is unnecessarily made into two films. If they do finally get things on track by fixing the major issues, it could then truly be called “divergent.”
“The Divergent Series: Insurgent” comes to Blu-ray in a fantastic 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that presents a crystal-clear image throughout the entire film, even in the darkest of scenes. The Dolby TrueHD Atmos Mix audio is a little soft at times, so you may need to make adjustments as required, but just be cautious when you do as a lot of the film is rather loud. Overall, the film has been given excellent treatment, giving you an outstanding experience in both areas.
Audio Commentary with Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher: Unfortunately this track has very little to offer, with the producers mainly describing what’s happening on the screen instead of taking us through the making of the film.
Insurgent Unlocked: A fascinating two-hour look behind the scenes, featuring interviews with cast and crew discussing several areas of the film, including creating the world of the series, the changes from the book, the stunts, the visual effects, and much more. Definitely worth watching.
From Divergent to Insurgent, Diverging: Adapting Insurgent to the Big Screen, The Others: Cast and Characters, The Train Fight Unlocked, The Peter Hayes Story: A series of very brief (3-5 minutes) and superficial featurettes that don’t tell you very much, and what little interesting info they do cover is already included in the feature-length making-of featurette, making all of these rather unnecessary and easily skippable.
Marketing Gallery (Trailers, Photos, etc.)
Instead of helping the story to move along as the middle part of a trilogy should, “Insurgent” ends up being nothing more than another helping of the problems that held back its predecessor. With its uninspired characters and static plot, it’s becoming clear that this series is in no hurry to get anywhere, which doesn’t exactly inspire hope when it comes to the thought of there being two more films to go. As always, they’ll be approached with the optimistic hope that the filmmakers will give them what the franchise has desperately been lacking so that, at the very least, the finale can go out with a bang. It may indeed be a lost cause at this point, but you never know.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
Recent Theatrical Reviews: Inside Out, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Recent Blu-ray/DVD reviews: X-Men: Days of Future Past (The Rogue Cut), Ex Machina, The Cell, House of Cards: Season Three, The Lazarus Effect, Run All Night, Wild Tales, Jupiter Ascending, American Sniper, Cymbeline, Mortdecai, The Pyramid, Fifty Shades of Grey, Goodfellas (25th Anniversary Edition), Lost River, The Last Five Years, Inherent Vice, Mad Max (Collector’s Edition), The Missing: Season One, Echoes, Turn: Season One
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