Daily Egyptian

‘Insurgent’ continues a critically unwanted series

By Jacob Pierce, @JacobPierce1_DE

The Divergent series proves just because a film series gets a sequel, it does not mean it is good. There was a time when at least one movie in a franchise had to be critically engaging for another to come. Now as long as a movie can be made into series, a sequel will be given the green light before the film is released.

“Divergent” was not a good movie. It took a fantastic novel and made it into a bland, hard to sit through “Hunger Games” rip off. Anyone who saw the movie would have thought it would be placed on the long list of failed attempts at franchises. Yet, this is far from the truth.

“Insurgent” (Rated PG-13;118 min) directed by Robert Schwentke, is another piece of an unfixable puzzle.

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This film was doomed from the start. Indicative of Hollywood’s money-making methods, this movie had its sequel planned before the first came out. This is common, but the studio behind the movie took it one step further. They started production of the second movie, while the first was being made. This made it impossible for several crew members, including director Neil Burger, to come back.  

Beatrice “Trish” Prior, played by Shailene Woodley, and Tobias “Four” Eaton, played by Theo James, are on the run after being blamed for the destruction of Abnegation, and are hunted down by the remaining members of the villainous side of the Dauntless and Erudite factions.

Joined by Trish’s brother Caleb, played by Ansel Elgort, and cocky Peter Hayes, played by Miles Teller, the group runs into more trouble as all their sanctuaries are found out. Peter joins the bad factions and Caleb breaks away from the group. Trish realizes her pursuers may want her for more devious reasons, and they will go to severe lengths to capture her.

Let me try to calm the ravenous teenage girl mob possibly at my door with pitchforks and torches. “Divergent” was not as bad as it could have been. As far as young adult adaptations go, it had a lot going for it. The book’s plot and terrific casting saved the original entry from becoming another forgettable teenage centric movie such as “Mortal Instruments” or “Beautiful Creatures.”

Somehow, “Insurgent” ended up worse than the last film. It is not by a large margin, but the film simply has no heart. A huge component is how the filmmakers seemed to care more about prospective revenue than the movie itself.

There is no emotional connection to “Insurgent.” While the first film was bland, this one is beyond banal. There are ideas placed on paper, plans for the movie to accomplish, but there is nothing to back them up. By the end of the film, you are apathetic about forming an opinion of it at all.

This lack of emotion seeps into the acting pool of the film. Woodley, who is in about 90 percent of the film, is front row and center, her unmotivated performance shining in bright neon lights.

Woodley seems like she does not want to be here, and who can blame her. She did “Divergent” way before her star power rose to its current height. Now she transcends the term indie darling, giving career making performances in “The Fault in Our Stars” and “The Spectacular Now.” You can almost see the actress counting the minutes until she can act in a “real role.”

For those living under a rock, Miles Teller is the name of one of the hottest young actors. Once only a teenage heartthrob, the actor proved his chops in the Best Picture nominated “Whiplash.” Teller’s forte is the cocky guy, whose humor makes him beyond likeable.

The makers of “Insurgent” must not have gotten this memo.

Teller is wasted in this film. Glimpses of the actor’s greatness, and possibly improvised attitude are scattered throughout the movie. Instead of pushing these qualities, the film wants nothing to do with a character who could possibly steal the show. Teller really tries to bring this film to a watchable level, but all of his good will is thrown away like a used tissue.

Films like “Insurgent” turn me into a pessimistic filmgoer. I will always be the first person to defend some of Hollywood’s trends. Just because a film is a young adult adaptation, does not mean it put box office success over creativity and emotion, which are foreign to this film. It does not care if you are invested in it at all, all it cares about is money.

Stars: 2.5 out 5.

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