Monday, March 23, 2015

Insurgent: Review

Ticket Stub

Insurgent begins with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) having integrated with the faction Amity in order to hide out.  They have an uneasy tenancy there.  Johanna (Octavia Spencer), the leader of the faction, finds her friendliness and hospitality tested and threatened by the presence of the two.  Peter (Miles Teller), the boyish Dauntless, and Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Tris’ Erudite brother, are also with Tris and Four.  

Theo James Shailene Woodley Miles Teller
Four (Theo James) and Tris (Shailene Woodley) hiding out on Amity grounds with Peter (Miles Teller).
It doesn’t take long for trouble to find them, in the form of a Dauntless hunting party led by none other than the reprehensible Eric (Jai Courtney).  A tense chase sequence ensues that culminates with various train tropes. 

Jai Cortney as Eric
First-rate cinematic douche bag, Eric.  Great work, Jai Courtney!
A group of the factionless are introduced upon successful flight from Dauntless.  This group escorts Tris and Four to a base camp where we meet another major character, some kind of rebel-militant leader for factionless, Evelyn (Naomi Watts).  As political layers are revealed so are personal layers. 

Naomi Watts as Evelyn.
Naomi Watts as Evelyn.
Another new face I enjoyed was TV’s Daniel Dae Kim (Jack Kang) appearing as the leader of the faction Candor.  He is solid presence during a portion of the film that I felt was otherwise underwhelming.  These scenes are pivotal groundwork (and they feel like groundwork) for dramatic payoffs throughout the end.  

Daniel Dae Kim as Jack Kang.
Daniel Dae Kim (left) as Jack Kang facing captive Four and Tris.
Much of this film focuses on Tris’ overbearing self-criticism, possibly self-hate.  This is the primary internal arc for the character. 

Kate Winslet as Jeanine.
Kate Winslet as Jeanine.

Jeanine (Kate Winslet) returns with more screen time and a bigger role to play.  She’s out for an artifact, which she hopes to unlock with the help (taken by force) of a divergent (who are the only ones capable of opening the artifact). 

Once again, there are some pretty dazzling sequences of CGI-enhanced Chicago.  The short hair works for Tris, better I think.  There are more surrealistic, trip-out simulation scenes.  Tendrils and cords offer up some cringe-worthy moments.  Action and drama are generally strong.  Yet, I don’t think it was a particularly great experience, nor one I look forward to having again.  I think the pace drags a bit in the middle; I was immersed during the beginning and end.  By all means, if you’ve seen the first then go see this one.  One plus about this film is that it ends in a much more satisfying place.  Honestly, I haven’t been as open to the worlds of the screen lately.  Perhaps if I had a sweet date, I would have been more enthusiastic.

Sim Simulation Winslet Woodley
Tendril-like simulation cords ensnaring Tris while Jeanine watches.
There are actually many twists and reversals and complexities.  The older woman behind me in the theater expressed liking it very much after the movie was over.  I recommend this film knowing that a few hours at the theater watching this is better than much of the lameness that occurs in the average household.  Be forewarned that this film is more maturity-oriented than the first.    

** I just remembered that Miles Teller and Shailene Woodly were also in The Spectacular Now together! 

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