All-star ‘Insurgent’ cast forgotten with narrow focus

Keely Jenkins

“Insurgent,” released on March 20, engulfs audiences in stunning animations that create a dystopian world plagued by battles for power. However, the absence of subplots results in a fluffy dialogue and plot that is barely redeemed by the action-packed film.

In the first movie, “Divergent,” audiences watched as Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is evaluated to be put into one of five factions representing intelligence, happiness, selflessness, bravery, and honesty. Prior discovers she has attributes that place her into more than one faction, something her society calls “divergent.” Prior chooses to join the bravery faction, Dauntless.

“Insurgent” begins after Prior ends an attack orchestrated by Erudite, the intelligence faction, on Abnegation, the selflessness faction in charge of government. Prior was able to resist the serum used on her fellow Dauntless, which allows her to stop the attack. Viewers follow Prior through physical pain and subconscious guilt as her biggest fears come to life in captivating scenes involving floating buildings and realistic emotional challenges as she aims to bring down Erudite, the faction that purged the Abnegation.

The movies are an adaptation of the Divergent Trilogy, written by Veronica Roth. Both the book and movie series also features the subplot of Prior’s romantic relationship with a Dauntless leader, Four (also known as Tobias), who is played by Theo James in the films.

Although “Insurgent” successfully creates Prior’s world through animation such as floating buildings and dramatic action scenes, bad dialogue and a narrow focus on a single character poorly use the potential of the all-star cast.

“Insurgent” also features acclaimed actor Ansel Elgort as Prior’s brother and “Whiplash” star Miles Teller in the role of Peter Hayes, the sarcastic semi-antagonist. Unfortunately, these characters fade into the background with little development as Prior remains in focus.

Tris Prior, portrayed by Shailene Woodley, (right) and her boyfriend Tobias Eaton (Theo James, left) debate their attack plan with Peter Hayes (Miles Teller),
Tris Prior, portrayed by Shailene Woodley, (right) and her boyfriend Tobias Eaton (Theo James, left) debate their attack plan with Peter Hayes (Miles Teller), “Insurgent” premiered on March 20 and is expected on DVD in August.

The spotlight on Prior throughout the movie is overwhelming. This singular focus contributes to the disappointing development of other characters. This singular focus is not present in the book trilogy and makes the movie’s portrayal of other characters seem abrupt and unimportant.

The absence of the disagreements between Prior and Four in the movie leaves out critical developments from the book that question Priors’ integrity and strengthen the plot. While it is relieving to see a physically-abled female protagonist defeating her many opponents, Prior’s character is too selfless to be believeable.

One major storyline present in the book but cut from the movie is the tension between Prior and Four when she sides with his hated father. In this plot in the book, “Insurgent,” Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson) is excluded from the film after a short appearance in the first 20 minutes, demonstrating the movie’s constant lack of attention to smaller schemes that is continually  disappointing.

One character the movie does develop is the exasperating Peter Hayes, who is a surprising source of appreciated comedy in the movie. By including the Hayes subplot, the movie creates friendly frustration, confusion, and suspense with Hayes’s constant betrayals and pays tribute to one of the important subplots of the book.

His snide remarks are the highlights of the dialogue because the romance between Prior and Four is all rainbows and sunshine, and the bedroom scenes between Prior and Four are degraded by cheesy dialogue. However, their love does seem realistic in moments of action or suspense when the audience clearly sees how they support each other emotionally.

Woodley also proves her versatility as an actress by providing tear-jerking scenes that leaves the audience silent in despair. Woodley is able to portray a cold demeanor to fellow characters, while also showing the audience that her attitude is a result of her masking the pain she feels with the loss of many of her loved ones.

This movie in not worth seeing in 3D. While the cinematography of the movie has potential, the effects are marred by the quick pace of the camera, which causes many of the scenes to be blurry.

“Insurgent” is expected to come out in DVD in August of 2015.