I really enjoyed the first movie, and while I can’t say that the second movie was as good as the first, I can say that I still really enjoyed this movie too. I imagine that the third movie will be better, because Insurgent was like a stepping stone setting up for something else.
Now, this isn’t meant as a slight again Shailene Woodley… but I’m actually happy that they didn’t just plug some big-breasted bombshell in the role of Tris. Shailene is very pretty, but she’s a down to earth real beauty (all be it, still a Hollywood thin). I didn’t read the Divergent books, but Shailene looked like what I imagined Tris would be. Tris is Abnegation (selfless) which I see as a humble role and Shailene fits my image of what that would mean (to me).
Looking at Theo James, he’s a bombshell. The pairing looked a little off, but only because of the ingrained picture of perfection that I feel Hollywood promotes. Normally, I would expect to see Theo paired with actresses like Scarlett Johansson. However, I really liked the odd pairing because it felt more organic, more real. In real life, beauty is measured in many ways and different people are attracted to different things. I loved the Shailene/Theo chemistry. It worked for me.
As for the acting, my husband thinks Shailene can’t act. I disagree. Our buddy compared the portrayal of Tris to Bella from Twilight. I can see the comparison, given the tortured-sole demeanor of both characters. However, my husband and I agree that Kristen Stewart can act (have you see The Runaways?). I feel like they were both victims of portraying a role the way it was supposed to be played (in my vision at least) and being judged by the role rather than the acting itself.
Of course the other actors were great too. There wasn’t enough of the many supporting roles from the first movie. It felt like everyone was a cameo except for the Tris, Four, Jeanine, Peter, and Jacob show. I loved Daniel Dae Kim in Candor, Jai Courtney as Eric (who was a fantastic actor in the previous movie), and all the Dauntless we bonded with in Divergent. Still, Shailene made me feel Tris’ internal pain, Theo portrayed a strong protector, Kate Winslet did a great job of making me greatly dislike Jeanine, while Ansel made me pitty Caleb, and Miles made me love wanting to punch Peter in the face!
My buddy was surprised at the betrayal of Caleb (Tris’ brother), but I wasn’t. I thought he was weak. He was always weak, even in the first movie. He had no where else to go. I wasn’t surprised that he crawled to Jeanine. Let’s be honest, if he hadn’t he wouldn’t have survived. I’m surprised he survived the train. He’s just a chess piece to be moved or killed off (perhaps a martyr?).
Peter’s back and forth on the sides of the fence was also not a surprise. While Peter is a jealous, out for himself character, I felt like he was abandoned and nobody truly gave a shit about him. So, he had to look out for himself. He felt like a real person with a lot of potential for either being a great villain or a hero. When the characters do something kind for him, he always gives back. He’s a dynamic character. I hope something interesting happens with him in the third movie. I haven’t read the books, so please don’t tell me!!
Nothing in the movie was really all that surprising. There’s a box with a message in it that will help us defeat the divergents… but the divergents are the only ones who can open it. Clearly, that message isn’t what you think it is. We got that point the minute the box was explained. They did a lot of cliche story tropes, like fighting/facing yourself. The tortured guilt. The “I killed him” but really it was self defense. The sneaking out at night to turn yourself into the bad guys to stop the suffering. The protective boyfriend. The family betrayal. The dead parent who’s not really dead and I have mommy issues.
Speaking of mommy issues… did anyone else notice that Four’s mother looked too young to be his mom? Looking at Naomi Watts’ age and Theo James’ age, Evelyn would have to have been sixteen when she had Tobias (Four’s real name). I wonder what the age of the characters were in the books? Was Evelyn actually a teen mother, or was that Hollywood’s way of making sense of choosing a younger actress to portray the part?
Either way, I thought Naomi played her role very well. The end of the movie gave us a glimpse of her lack of mercy and trustworthiness. While I felt a tiny bit of sympathy for the wildly misguided Jeanine, it was a well deserved ending. They’ve set up Evelyn to be the next villain. I’ll be surprised if she’s not.
Before I close, there’s a couple of honorable mentions: Octavia Spencer and Callie Brook McClincy. Octavia portrayed Johanna of Amity, which I thought she did beautifully in the short time she was on screen. Callie portrayed a little divergent girl in Candor and her scenes were also short lived but very good. I think this kid could be someone to look out for in the coming decade. Will she be a child star who fades into adulthood, or will she rise and become a big star when she’s all grown up?
I am interested in seeing the next movie!