Friday, June 12, 2015

I Finally Saw the Divergent Series 'Insurgent' Film

Here there be spoilers.

The BF and I finally saw Insurgent, at the dollar theater, last night. I liked the movie more than I thought I would, and it reminded me of why I loved Veronica Roth's novel so much.

It starts out in the Amity compound. If I could choose to live in a fictional place - well, my first choice might be Howl's Moving Castle, but near the top of the list would be the Amity compound. I'd eat the bread. It wasn't really clear in the movie that the bread was spiked with feel-good chemicals, but it's obvious from the books. I don't even care, though. I'd happily put on the red clothes and push kids in swings all day, no worries.

But Tris, Four, and Caleb can't stay there, because the Jeanine-led Dauntless come looking for the Divergent. Jeanine is using Divergent people to unlock the box she found in the Prior home, which she believes will reinforce her power-hungry, evil schemes to control the city.

Creative Commons image by Andrea Raffin
It's so easy to hate Jeanine, but so hard to hate Kate Winslet. I have the same conflict with Ansel Elgort. How dare he be so attractive whilst Caleb commits his shocking and cowardly betrayal? Caleb's weasely reluctance to lift a finger to help his sister while she's being tortured and near-killed makes Tris's you-know-what in the third installment (which will be the fourth movie) all the more sad.

Creative Commons image by Mingle Media TV
Oh, my brave Tris. Shailene Woodley may not understand why it's important to be an outspoken feminist, but good goddesses, that gal can act. My brain knows she's the same actor who played Hazel Grace Lancaster, but my heart knows they're two completely, utterly different people - and that's a great tribute to Woodley's ability to inhabit a character and a fictional world. I'm not even going to pretend like I don't love her, because plainly I do. That fourth movie is going to shatter my heart like safety glass.

Creative Commons image by Georges Biard
Tris gets to be a bit sexy in her on-screen incarnation. The novel version of Insurgent would have you believe that Tris and Four's physical relationship is somewhat limited, because she fears emotional intimacy - understandable, given her personal traumas. The movie strongly implies that Tris and Four's bed-sharing isn't simply for comfort (he helps relieve her PTSD-induced nightmares). Maybe it's just because Woodley and Theo James have mad onscreen chemistry, but their relationship in the film seems very much hands-on.

Creative Commons image by Christopher William Adach from London, U.K.
Of course, I am grateful for every moment of screen time that Theo James is shirtless. Or talking. Like Jim Caviezel and Christian Bale before him, James is gifted with the Voice of Pure Sex. Side effect of a British actor speaking with an American accent? I don't know, but it works for me. I like his whole...everything. He's part Greek too, and you can tell his Mediterranean-ness by the fatness of his bottom lip, which I would very much like to bite.

The other actor whose performance is devastating in this movie is the lovely and talented Ms. Zoe Kravitz as Christina. Her face when Tris confesses she killed Will gave me heart pangs. I actually hope the third and fourth movies don't dwell on the budding relationship between Christina and Uriah, because we all know how that ends. But I do want a little epilogue with Christina and Four holding hands, in a friendship way, future relationship left up to the viewer's imagination. Personally I'm pro-Fourstina (it seems like a healthy part of the healing process), but it's okay if you're not.

Creative Commons image by Mingle Media TV
Other actors who play the faction leaders also give worthy performances, notably the lovely Olivia Spencer (Oscar-winning actress of The Help fame, presented her award by Oscar-winning Christian Bale) as Amity leader Johanna (I really liked the way they did her scars with makeup) and Daniel Dae Kim as Candor leader Jack Kang. Four's mom Evelyn, leader of the Factionless, was played by Naomi Watts. T. and I recently saw her in Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, a strange meta-fictional movie about actors performing a Raymond Carver short story ("What We Talk About When We Talk About Love") as a play. She's good, if a bit young-looking. It looks like Evelyn gave birth to Four when she was four. I wish their back story wasn't so bad.

The only thing I really didn't care for in this movie was the device that measures how divergent a person is, and what his or her or their faction is. I thought faction was a free choice? How can it be measured, even with a genetic scan? I mean, we do find out in Allegiant that the factions were part of a genetics experiment, but seemed like a cheesy sci-fi movie thing.

I recall the book being an exciting page-turner with a cliffhanger ending (what's outside the fence?). The movie lived up to that. It was thrilling, twisty, and a tease for the next film. T. slow-clapped when Four shot Eric, and the other people in the theater laughed at that.

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