Insurgent Bests Divergent, Still Not Great

Doesn't hold a candle to Hunger Games : critics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2015 11:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you liked the first installment of the Divergent series, based on the books by Veronica Roth, you'll probably like the latest addition. Audiences are giving it a 72% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but critics are less impressed. Some say it's better than the first flick, but that's apparently not saying much. Here's what critics are saying:

  • The first installment was "tepid," but new screenwriters have "done serious surgery to Insurgent, streamlining the story line, changing key plot points, ... and in general improving the narrative flow," Kenneth Turan writes at the Los Angeles Times. "The result—though admittedly it's a low bar to clear—is a more effective, adult-friendly film than its predecessor." Still, the heart of the movie is in its action sequences, which "are nothing if not traditional B-movie material."
  • Tom Long at the Detroit News writes that Insurgent, "while far from perfect, has a crackling energy that can't be denied." The visuals are "mostly dazzling" but the movie "is all on [Shailene] Woodley (the camera rarely leaves her) and she's more than capable ... of pulling it off." Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet are also strong, but the franchise remains what Long calls "a poorer cousin of The Hunger Games." And the "just-in-the-nick-of-time climax is fairly laughable."

  • Insurgent overcomes "middle-book-itis" and "moves the story forward significantly," writes Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle. But it's "ridiculous." The "world of the film is so far-fetched that the mechanics of its functioning are of no interest. What's worse, the behavior of the characters often goes against the movie's own internal logic." Interestingly, the good parts are "saved for the end, and they leave the viewer with a feeling of, 'Well, that was OK,' even though most of it wasn't."
  • At one point, Woodley's character says, "I know this doesn't make any sense." Chimes in Claudia Puig at USA Today: "That sentiment pretty much sums up this listless sequel." It "feels cobbled together and less focused than 2014's Divergent, and lacks tension and excitement," she writes. Woodley and Theo James "seem merely to be going through the motions. Their ultra-seriousness, combined with lackluster performances, add up to a dreary experience."

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