‘Insurgent’ better adaptation of the book than ‘Divergent’

March 30, 2015

April Wefler
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4/5 stars

Fans of Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy can fall in love with the series all over again thanks to the new “Insurgent” movie, which premiered March 20.

Like many book-to-movie adaptations, “Insurgent” did change a lot, but it was still great, adding more fast-paced action. While the underlying dystopia of a surface utopia is now a cliché thanks to “The Hunger Games,” I still immensely enjoyed “Insurgent.”

“Insurgent”, unlike its predecessor movie, “Divergent,” is a fantastic adaptation of the beloved novel, much like “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

It begins with Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) the leader of Eruite, telling the city that no one is safe with the divergents running around.

One of the dauntless divergents is heroine Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), who escapes to rural Amity, along with boyfriend Four (Theo James,) nemesis Peter (Miles Teller) and brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort).

The four are allowed to stay among the peaceful Amity under one condition: no violence allowed. Amity refuses to participate in the war between the Dauntless and the Erudite.

When Peter causes Tris to snap and pull a knife on him, Amity leader Johanna Reyes (Octavia Spencer) tells the group they need to leave immediately.

Four talks her into letting them stay and she agrees to give them one more chance. The decision is irrelevant as dauntless soldiers soon tear into Amity and send Tris, Four and Caleb on the run.

The movie sees influence from almost all the characters.

Tris’ friend, Uriah (Keiynan Lonsdale) has the same amount of impact that he did in the trilogy. Lonsdale is a fantastic Uriah.

Woodley continues to play a superb Tris, particularly when conveying Tris’ pain and self-loathing.

In one scene, Tris and Four find themselves among the Candor (the honest). Its leader, Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), has them injected with truth serum to find out if they can be trusted.

Tris finds herself spilling the painful secrets she tried so hard to keep unspoken and Woodley’s pain is so apparent that the audience can feel it.

James does not get a chance to shine in “Insurgent,” as he did in “Divergent,” but he does play a decent Four.

The best portrayal is Winslet’s character, who plays the cruel and heartless Jeanine Matthews exactly as one pictures when reading the novel.
Matthews tells Tris that everything she’s doing is for the good of everyone, including sending people to their suicides to get what she wants. Winslet perfectly conveys Matthews’ belief that she’s doing the right thing.

“Insurgent” also includes diversity in its cast through two important leaders of the city: Reyes and Kang. It’s refreshing to see this in an industry that likes to include as little diversity as possible.

An important part of each faction is its fashion choice. “Insurgent” does a great job of sticking to this, with its Amity members in bright colors, Candor in black and white, Erudite members in blue, Dauntless in black and Abnegation in gray. Then there are the factionless, who wear pieces of every faction.

The makeup team also did a great job. Reyes, like her book counterpart, has facial scars.

But there was an annoying inconsistency. In one scene, Tris’ face is covered with blood; in the next scene, the blood seems to have disappeared.

The set design is great. “Insurgent” takes place in a city destroyed by war, which is demonstrated perfectly by the amount of ruined and mostly ruined buildings. The scenery choices conveyed all of the locations of the factions.

The holographic images could be a lot less pixelated. In several places, it seems as if the special effects people were trying to pull off breaking glass effects equivalent to those in “Inception” and failed miserably.

“Insurgent” has a lot of suspense, to the point where even if one’s read the book, it’s difficult to tell what is going to happen next.

“Divergent” was incredibly disappointing. “Insurgent” is not.