Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Divergent Series: Insurgent [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (2 1/2 Stars) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

The Divergent Series: Insurgent [2015] (directed by Robert Schwentke screenplay by Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback based on the novel [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Veronica Roth [wikip] [GR] [IMDb]) is the second cinematic installment of the Post-Apocalyptic "Hunger Games-like" teen-oriented Divergent Trilogy.  It follows the release of Divergent [2014], the first installment of the series, and for some better and for many others probably worse FEELS EXACTLY like the "second installment" of a series.

This is to say, for those enthralled by the possibility of "visiting alternate worlds," be they of Star Wars, or The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or perhaps, closer to home here, Mad Max / The Hunger Games a "second installment" with a promised third / fourth on the way would be "just great (!)" even if the plot perhaps meandered because ONE WOULDN'T CARE IF "THE PLOT MEANDERED." The main point of viewing "the second installment" was to visit the "alternate world" of the first installment once more.  Indeed, "meandering" could even be seen as a positive thing ... it would mean that one gets to remain in that world for a bit longer.

Indeed ever since Hollywood split J.K. Rowling's final Harry Potter book to make Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2, it's been standard operating procedure to do the same with regards film versions of successful teen-oriented book series: The final book of the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn, was split to make Parts 1 and 2, as was the final book, Mocking Jay, of the Hunger Games trilogy, as indeed will the final book of this, the Divergent series.   Heck, J.R.R. Tolkein's Hobbit was famously (or infamously...) broken up into THREE movies [1], [2], [3].  "Meandering" pays ... and THE FANS of these "story-book worlds" don't mind.

So then, even if this second installment of the Divergent series feels very much like The Two Towers  [IMDb] (the second installment of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings) and we're still two films from coming to the end of the series, because Part III of the Divergent series will be almost certainly split once more into two films, fans of the series get to spend some more time in "Post-Apocalyptic" Chicago ;-) and a society radically divided into five high school-like cliques (err ... factions): the "granola-eating" / peace loving folks of Amity, the "geekish" but also increasingly "know it all" / arrogant Erudites, the similarly "wonkish" but more argumentative "debate team" types of Candor, the brave / "jockish" Dauntless, and the responsible, self-sacrificing "student council" types of Abnegation.

The two enemies of this system were, (1) those who didn't fit-in anywhere, that is, "The Factionless" and then (2) "The Divergent" who could actually fit quite well into several of the factions.

In the first film, we were introduced to the series' heroine Beatrice or Tris (played by Shailene Woodley) who grew-up in a (necessarily "rather boring") Abnegation household but at her "right of passage" / "choosing ceremony", _chooses_ to enter the seemingly "far more fun / crazy" Dauntless faction.  Most of those coming to the "choosing ceremony," choose to remain in the faction in which they were raised, only about 15% would change faction.  According to societal rules once one chose one's faction, one could not go back.

So why would someone skip faction?  Well, it would seem that those who'd skip factions were at least IN PART "Divergent" (again, something viewed as dangerous in this rigid society).  And, of course Tris proves to be somewhat _radically divergent_ able to "fit in" with most / all of the factions.  Ironically, since she was able to "fit in" with all the factions, in the society portrayed, that ability made her something of an "outcast" to those who were happily members of the (one) faction to which they had chosen to belong.  She was BOTH someone who could bring social harmony to a whole new level in that society AND "dangerous" to the social order as well.

So hers is the drama played out in this series ... and she does progressively build a coalition of friends/allies around her starting with (1) "past family" notably her brother Caleb (played by Ansel Elgort) with whom she had grown-up, then with (2) those who were perhaps "closeted divergents" as well, like her boyfriend Four (played by hunkish / Jacob of the Twilight Saga-like Theo James) and finally with (3) folks like "always Dauntless" Peter (played by Miles Teller) who initially really didn't like Tris, but as he's gotten to know her, has gotten used to her, even if he's always found her "odd."

This particular installment notes an interesting irony -- that for this radically rigid social order to be overthrown, an alliance between its two kinds of misfits, "The Factionless" who didn't fit in anywhere, and "The Divergent" who actually fit-in just about everywhere, had to be forged.

Can such an alliance be forged?  Well ... go see the movie ;-)

It all makes for a fairly long "Part II" of the story ... but it's an opportunity for those who are intrigued by the world / social order portrayed to bask in it for a couple more hours.

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