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Divergent’s biggest problem as a movie was that it followed its source material too closely, and as such brought all the issues that permeated the novel with it. Insurgent frees itself from the confines of second Divergent book by taking a few creative liberties, but in doing so it created a whole host of other complications. As a fan they didn’t bother me too much, but for a series that was already struggling to be taken seriously it doesn’t do much to win over any new fans.

The biggest problem with those changes was how they changed certain characters’ motivations and journeys. One in particular is changed so much that despite the endings matching up, the reasons behind them happening are completely different. This change also affected a moment in the novel for me that could potentially detract from something that takes place in the sequel Allegiant, but considering these changes were a lot more noticeable this time around than they were in Divergent, I think there’s very little chance of that moment happening anymore.

It’s disappointing that despite Insurgent being a superior book, it winded up being a marginally weaker movie than Divergent was. The pacing problems that permeated the first chapter in the Divergent Series weren’t an issue since they only existed in the first movie because of loyalty to the events of the novel, but the uptick in quality that made Insurgent a better book for me didn’t translate on-screen.

Thankfully there was still a lot here for fans to sink their teeth into. Missing characters from the first film were introduced (albeit a bit hastily) and the majority of the book’s highlights remained intact. One scene in particular was pitch perfect and came across just as dark as I imagined it to be.

The performances were also consistent with the first movie, with some even improving quite a bit. Shailene Woodley is still one of the best things about this franchise, shining in every scene even if the dialogue doesn’t warrant it. But while the supporting cast are mostly great, some are painfully underused.

The newcomers are a mixed bag. Octavia Spencer is a wonderful addition despite differing from what I was expecting, though she’s one cast member who didn’t get the material she deserved. Naomi Watts on the other hand was woefully miscast. Not only does she look the same age as her supposed son (a compliment to how beautiful she still is at 46) but Evelyn is a role that should have been incredibly complex and compelling and instead comes across a little flat. Hopefully the events of Allegiant will change that and give Watts the opportunity to improve on what she delivered here.

I’m worried about what the next two movies will look like. Insurgent was a great novel, but Allegiant gets a little lost halfway through and if the better book didn’t live up to its source, the final two entries in the Divergent movie series might continue on the same path set out with this film. There’s every chance I could be wrong and it’ll improve on what the final book did wrong but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.


Peter (Miles Teller) was a great character to bring the comic relief this time. I think his humour was even a bit too tongue in cheek.

Love triangles are still nowhere to be found, and hopefully won’t appear in the final two movies.

The simulations were actually really well done, but the 3D conversion was pointless and terribly used.

Insurgent, despite its issues, is still rewarding for existing fans. Though it doesn’t make an effort to draw any naysayers into the Divergent camp, it still has fun with the premise. I just wish it hadn’t squandered the opportunity to be taken seriously amongst all the other YA powerhouses.

3 out of 5 factions


  1. I've only read the first book in the series, and I found the first movie to be decent but very flawed. This time around, I went in basically with no knowledge of what was to come, and I was pleasantly surprised.

    I don't know what did or didn't translate well, and I wonder if that's why I liked it. I thought Shailene Woodley was excellent, and really carried the movie along. The supporting characters were a bit mixed in overall performance. But those small characters didn't bother me so much.

    In fact I didn't even realized that was Naomi Watts until the credits rolled. So I think that means she totally disappeared into the role (which I found interesting and ambiguous). But she did look too young to be that character's mother.

    The CGI was surprising, and built on the simulations from the first film. But mostly it was where the plot went. I didn't expect as much to unfold as it did. Since there are two more movies coming (from one book), there is obviously more story to tell. But this felt almost like a finale, in a lot of ways there was more closure in this movie then we get in a lot of other films of similar plot and themes.

  2. It's interesting that they've changed the book quite a lot for this one. I haven't read any of the books, but I do know two significant things about the ending of Allegiant and I noticed what looked like a change to one of them here, so I wondered how much they'd changed. I still feel like the premise doesn't really make sense, but the revelations at the end of this film did actually help it make a little more sense for me. One the other hand, I thought Caleb was very badly served and his motivations were a mess. Plus, I haven't even seen The Fault in Our Stars, but I've seen enough gifs of it on tumblr to be distracted by that whenever he was on screen!


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