Director: Robert Schwentke
Based On the Book By: Veronica Roth
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Recommended for: Lovers of YA Novels, the Hunger Games, and action-packed, uplifting stories.
I have long anticipated this film and one reason was I didn’t care for the book. I know I may get some hate from that, but though the plot was fine, I felt like the main character Tris instead of conquering the trials before her like in the first book, she succumbed to them. She became selfish, whiny, and sometimes even needlessly suicidal. On top of that, she refused the multiple opportunities she had for redemption. Where was that girl I loved from the first book who blasted through all odds? In addition the book had an unnecessary homosexual reference and prolific swearing.
Thankfully, the movie mended all those things that bothered me in the novel and took an okay book and made it into an inspiring film.
One choice can destroy you or transform you. Tris Prior, her brother Caleb, Four, and Peter are now fugitives and hunted by the Erudite as Jeanine searches for divergent test subjects to open an ancient box from the Creators of their closed-off society. Meanwhile, Tris is also dealing with guilt and grief from her actions. Civil war is on the horizon and while Four wants to lead it, Tris is concerned about protecting the ones she loves. To stop all hell from breaking loose she must embrace her divergence, even though now she wishes more than ever she never had it.
Violence/Scary Images: This is an action film so there is frequent fighting in both hand to hand combat and gun fights which include death. At one point a character is in a simulation and is shown to be beaten up in her mind. This could be a bit scary. There is some blood shown from wounds such as gunshots and bleeding nose, ears, and mouth. Some tech devices that are shot into people and when removed have blood on them. No extremely gruesome gore though, nothing that made me look away.
Language/Crude Humor: There isn’t any crude humor, but the character Eric says sh** twice and Jeanine says h*** once.
Sexual Content: Unfortunately there is a sex scene. In it, you see some nudity of Tris’s and Four’s bare back, but there is only kissing before the scene cuts. This was not in the book. Throughout the movie there are several more instances of kissing.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: Though there isn’t any alcohol, serums or drugs are used to induce simulations, make characters tell the truth, fake a death, and to sedate a character at one point. These are injected in a syringe or multiple syringes at one point and mostly make the character sweaty or fall asleep.
Other Negative Content: As a reader of the book, I miss a few scenes of the book I did like that they cut out. I see why they did, but for sentimental reasons I miss the secret of Amity being revealed and a touching scene between Tris and Christina.
Though the plot differs to a degree from the book, I believe it still keeps the book’s soul and integrity. It was streamlined and altered slightly to up the pacing. I particularly liked that they gave more importance to Tris, and why she out of all the divergents out there (there are a good number of them) is important. Unlike the book, director Robert Schwentke (RED) took advantage of the simulations and made them more of a key part of the story as they are the only way to unlock this message in a box as opposed to Tris having the hardrive (the book version of the box) throughout and not looking at the contents until the end. The peeks into Jeanine’s point of view gave us more of a sense of what’s going on and why it’s so imperative that the character succeed in their goal as opposed to the book’s single point of view.
The best part of this film is the characters. Though the book focused on more than one, the movie seemed focus primarily on Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Peter (Miles Teller), and Jeanine (Kate Winslet) so we got to know each of them well as the story went into each of their points of views. This movie also introduces new characters to the ensemble such as the leader of Amity, Johanna (Octavia Spencer), the leader of Candor, Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), and the leader of Factionless, Evelyn Eaton (Naomi Watts). I was skeptical about Octavia Spencer (The Help) playing Johanna mostly because I couldn’t see the giant scar, but she ended up having her characteristic mark and doing a great job in the role. Everyone’s acting was good and felt natural.
Shailine Woodley’s (The Fault in Our Stars) performance of Tris was great. She displayed the characters pain, confliction, anger, grief, sacrifice, love, and mercy so well, bringing so much depth to the role. I loved her journey in the moving from wallowing in pain to overcoming it in that conqueror way that made me love her from the Divergent film and movie. Kate Winslet (Titanic, Sense and Sensibility) was an excellent villainess as Jeanine with a cold, calculating, determined nature, but still with humanity to make her three-dimensional. Lastly, Miles Teller (Whiplash) did an excellent job as the slimy, selfish, jerk Peter. He even gave some much-needed comic relief that had me giggling to this serious film.
One of my favorite things about the Divergent series is the visuals and the movie really brought those out. The world of Divergent has now extended from Erudite, Dauntless, and Abnegation to also Candor and Amity and we get to see their ways of life. The rustic, agricultural environment of Amity fits how I pictured it in the book, though I would have liked the apple orchard to be shown more. The marble, symmetrical official environment of Candor was very fitting too, though I’d hope they’d give some characters a chair like in the book during the truth serum scene.
The costumes are appropriate and a delight to the eyes. I love seeing the colors changing as they go from faction to faction, and how the outfits are mix of futuristic and vintage.
The visual effects are amazing and since I saw Insurgent in 3D I experienced all of their glory. The simulations are a sight to behold with giant cities crumbling, glass shattering, and people dissipating in floating, silver flakes. The particles pop out of the screen so much so you want to touch them.
The soundtrack was decent. It was darker in this film, appropriate for the movie’s feel, and fit with the tone of the first film with its synthetic sounds mixed with vocals and orchestra, but it didn’t stand out to me as much as it did in Divergent. I didn’t think, “Wow, I must have this soundtrack right now,” like I did during the first film.
The second best part or perhaps the first–it’s hard for me to decide–are the beautiful themes in this movie. The five factions believe five different virtues lead to peace: bravery, selflessness, honesty, intelligence, and kindness, but the one that shined in this film was forgiveness. Tris struggles with the guilt of killing a friend in the previous film in self-defense and feeling like she’s toxic and deadly, because the people around her seem to perish–like her parents. Even though Four has told her that she is a good person, he believes in her, is devoted to her, and that her parents would think the same, Tris feels so haunted she can’t let go.
Until she goes into the simulations and has to pass trials related to each of the factions.
This wasn’t in the book, but gosh, I wish it was. We see the bitterness and hurt of Tris peel away as she conquers her trials by being brave, selfless, honest, intelligent, and kind. And in the end she forgives herself and becomes free of all the pain she’s been gripping in a tight fist the whole movie. The villain’s plan instead of crushing Tris put her through a crucible that freed her. It was such a beautiful, inspiring display and I walked out of the theater smiling and uplifted by the hope I felt from this and the ending.
It is so important that we forgive not just others, but let ourselves be forgiven so we may grow.
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
This is a great film with action, romance, good characters, stunning visuals, and virtue. If you loved the first movie, then this is a fantastic sequel. I hope you will walk out of the theater as hopeful as I did.
+ Great Characters + Amazing Visual Effects + Fast-paced Plot + Beautiful Theme of Forgiveness + Good Acting + Great Cast
- Unnecessary Sex Scene - Some scenes I enjoyed from the book were removed - Mediocre Soundtrack
The Bottom Line
A great film with action, virtue, and great characters. If you loved the first film, then this is a must-see.