‘Insurgent’ Deals in Dystopian Fantasy


(Review) Robert Schwentke directs ‘Insurgent’

I don’t know about you, but I’d be perfectly content if Dystopian Days took a break from the cinematic screens.

Damn Depressing.

Of course, as long as Tris and Katniss are taking turns jumping from the pages of YA novels into still-successful franchises, the Darkness and my ‘D’ key shall continue their Dance.

Insurgent goes where Divergent dared leave the devoted followers of the work of novelist Veronica Roth. The outcast rebels led by Beatrice Prior, shortened to Tris in her first-film relationship with man-of-action Four, are hiding out in the seemingly happy place of The Amity, tussling with what their insurgence has wrought and the ominous directives of president Jeanine.

There are plenty of rising stars in this middle piece of Roth’s puzzle — yes, another novel, Allegiant, waits in the wings — for new director Robert Schwentke to attempt to make moviegoers think he and the movie live up to Neil Burger’s first effort, always a dicey proposition. Shailene Woodley indeed looks pumped up for the greater challenges that await Tris. She runs faster, jumps higher, cries harder and wrestles more graphically with the emotional canyons that appear in her sims. (These simulations breathe life into the Dingy Diorama, by the way.)

Theo James as Four goes a little deeper this time around, even though his basic look and plot points still teeter between these: Dour and Dire. Both of them, too, take on the increased level of gun killing in this one with great speed and skill after the appropriate amount of moral hesitation.

And, lo and behold, the YA’ness allows them one slight love scene. There is a suggestive lowering of a zipper (her, of her own). To this, he .. Well, they do not show his reaction to that.

As far as the other rebels go outside the five major factions, Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort do what they do, too, as fellow runners Peter and Caleb, proving that once a wiseass dick and awkward egghead, always a wiseass dick and an awkward egghead.

For the elders, Kate Winslet as Jeanine is suitably evil as the conniving leader, Octavia Spencer as Amity leader Johanna shows some nice gumption, and Ashley Judd in flashbacks as Tris’ mom is appropriately creepy. Naomi Watts’ addition as a surprise new relative breathes some fresh life into the rebellious antics.

Like Katniss Everdeen (and Jennifer Lawrence) in the Hunger Games series, which is one movie further along than this one, though, it is the story of Tris Prior (and Shailene Woodley) that will or will not put people in the seats for this one.

The major plot twists can stray here and there for a moment or two, OK. But they must always circle back to the centerpiece. Damsel Danger. Dogged Determination. Despair Derailed. Dystopia Detox?

Mark BialczakMark Bialczak is a veteran journalist who has lived in the Syracuse area since 1983. In early 2013, he was set free to write about whatever he wants.





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