This week, the second film in the Divergent Series, Insurgent, is released on 3-D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD. Divergent is set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, where the remaining humans have been sorted into castes based on their abilities. One girl defies the framework and challenges those who wish to manipulate it for their own gain. Picking up just a few days after where the last Divergent movie ends, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) must bring the fight to Jeanine (Kate Winslet) before she destroys their society, pinning death and chaos on the pair. Jeanine’s tool to do so happens to require Tris, and the trippy adventure to get there is action-packed and visually impressive.
The story behind Insurgent is interesting, if a little underdeveloped. The plot rockets through four different groups of people in two hours, while still trying to grant some character development to the leads. This means little insight into the various factions and their leadership structures, even as each new corner of the world begs to be explored. And it’s a fascinating world.
Most of the action is focused on Tris, the emotional entrance to the film’s heart, and I understand the desire to maintain the focus there, but it feels like there are wasted possibilities constantly plucked and then discarded.
As a result, those plot threads are neglected, minimizing the roles of terrific actors, new to the sequel, including Octavia Spencer (The Help), Naomi Watts (The Impossible), and Daniel Dae Kim (Lost). I find myself wishing for more story in each of their zones. The talented new cast members, join the already impressive cast from the first movie (which, alongside Winslet, includes Ashley Judd, Mekhi Phifer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, and more).
The overall story arcs feel a bit weak at times. For instance, Tris is able to resist the mind-controlling serum in the first movie because she is Divergent, but quickly succumbs to Candor’s truth juice? The powers of a Divergent aren’t quite clear. And why does Candor have its own guards? It also seems like Jeanine has a lot of power, but then has no idea what is going on in other parts of the city, though the soldiers that work for her always seem to show up when the movie requires another shot of adrenaline.
Insurgent is not a bad film. What it lacks in plot, it makes up for in some really neat shots. I wish I’d been sent the 3-D version of this film to review because I am sure it would be cool to see all of the visual effects with depth. As it stands, even the Blu-ray version is pretty good looking. Some wide shots and crowd scenes are identifiable as computer-generated, but everything that happens to Tris, and there’s a lot of mind-confounding stuff for her to go through that isn’t set in reality, is very well done. As a blockbuster-type movie, Insurgent delivers on the expectation for big, flashy scenes.
The special features on this set are also much better than most recent releases I’ve seen. “The Ultimate Behind-the-Scenes Access” is the entire length of the movie, often showing the film in a small box while talking about different aspects. This is more than just fluff, giving real insight into a variety of pieces of the production. There’s also a separate audio commentary, and several featurettes about adapting the book, the cast in general, a break down on a scene, and a look at perhaps the most interesting character, Peter Hayes (Teller). Most of these are not on the straight DVD, so that means blu-ray is recommended, though I’d imagine 3D is the best way to go if you have a 3D television and player.
In short, while Insurgent has some flaws, the package has a lot of value to it. It may not be as good as some other recent entries in the genre, but there is a lot of clever, original material here, too, which will give the savvy viewer much to ponder long after the film is over. Combined with a great array of extras, I’m glad to add this to my collection.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent will is available August 4th.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00V5E7ZW6][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00MFUSSU2][amazon template=iframe image&asin=0062352164]