The Insurgent film release really snuck up on me, with life keeping me busy and university work in full swing, I probably would have completely missed out on seeing it in the cinema if it weren’t for a good friend of mine who reminded me! In a way, I kind of liked going without having been sucked into any of the hype, it meant that I could sit back, relax and enjoy without any preconceived ideas of how good it would be or how it would compare with the novel. I’m just a tad late with this review, but better late than never, eh?!
Dystopian Chicago and its faction system are a mess. After the horror and confusion of the simulations attacks, the Dauntless have been left scattered. Some have joined forces with the enemy Erudite while others seek refuge with the remaining factions. Tris (Shailene Woodley) may have saved half of Abnegation with her acts of selflessness and bravery, but they have not left her unscarred. Still reeling from the death of her parents and shooting one of her closest friends, Tris feels lost and cut off from those around her. Unsure where is safe, Tris, Four (Theo James) and a selection of remaining Dauntless and Abnegation seek protection with Amity, but they know that they cannot stay for long. Amity promotes communication, neutrality and peace. War is coming and the Dauntless must fight back.
Tris must be ready, because her world is about to be turned upside down.
So, let’s start off with the good! Insurgent as a film is a whirlwind spectacular for the eyes. The sets, cinematography and CGI were impressive beyond belief, every scene felt glossy and polished with many scenes using purple, blue and greyish hues that gave it an especially sleek, futuristic dystopian feel. Insurgent is on a whole other level in comparison to Divergent. The actions scenes are intense and frequent, they are done in a way that make the watcher draw in a deep breath with the tension of it all. The simulation scenes had my heart beating fast and when Four was running away from some Dauntless and lunged over a train track with a moving train mere inches from his body I found myself physically wincing and shielding myself, ready for the blow. Everything is designed to have a high impact on the watcher, and it works!
The main thing that I liked about this movie was the pacing. The film starts off with a bang and continues at a sprint running into conflict after conflict whether mental or physical. It was far better than the novel which I remember thinking was slow and somewhat difficult to get into. A further bonus for me was that the medium meant a lot of Tris’s infuriating and whiny internal monologues were cut. These were book changes that benefited the story. However, there were a lot of other changes that had me raising an eyebrow. In a similar way to The Maze Runner adaptation, at times the Insurgent movie felt like an entirely different story. The plot is loosely there but warped, and some aspects that took up a big portion of the novel were missing while other entirely new aspects were added in. Surprisingly, this didn’t bother me as much as you might think. Although the story was different, it didn’t feel it was in a good or bad way. It was just different. Which confused my brain!
Having said that, I did feel that these changes took away some of the realism and more serious aspects of the story. Tris’s post-traumatic stress – easily one of the most prominent aspects of the book which to an extent shows the importance of not glorifying or romanticising war, was glossed over apart from a few nightmares. Also, one of the things I liked about Tris and Tobias as a couple in the books was that they weren’t perfect, they fought a lot, they struggled to trust each other and were constantly plagued with doubts. In the movie, this is all stripped away and replaced with a much more straightforward, linear relationship which I didn’t really like. I feel like once again Hollywood has opted for the smooth, cookie cut out, one true love romance that is never in doubt, as well as replacing and overlooking the seriousness of war in favour of high impact action scenes and pretty choreography. It’s entertaining, but it lacks substance and complexity!
As for the characters, I felt so detached from their struggles. Because the film was so action packed the small intimate scenes seemed few, and when they did occur, came across as forced. There’s something about Shailene Woodley and Theo James as actors…they don’t project emotion in a way that makes me care, I find them disingenuous and I don’t know why! I didn’t feel the chemistry between Tris and Four, and the secondary characters (except for Christina) were ignored once again in favour of heavy action and CGI scenes to the point that when anything dramatic happened to them there was very little emotional investment making me care. Also, WHERE WAS URIAH? WHERE HAS HIS AWESOME CHARACTER DISSAPEARED TO IN THIS FRANCHISE? He is epic and they reduced him to like, TWO LINES. If there was a choice between action scenes and Uriah? I would pick Uriah. Just putting it out there!
Overall, while Insurgent had its brilliant moments, it was let down by a case of action over substance as well as a lack of character development. I think how much you like this film will depend on what you’re looking for from it. If your going in for the heart pumping action and fun futuristic feel you will come out satisfied, but if you’re looking for emotion, depth and an accurate representation of the book you may be a tad disappointed!
Have you seen Insurgent yet? Did you think it was a case of action over substance? Do you find it difficult when a movie diverges a lot from the book? (See what I did there 😉 )
CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery): 5/5
FANGIRL FACTOR: 2/5