Insurgent should be titled Redundant

Insurgent should be titled Redundant


Title: Insurgent
Rating: F2
Short review: Big on budget, but low on new ideas and creative twists, it adds little to the Young Adult Dystopian genre.

Insurgent — the second book-to-film adaptation from Veronica Roth's apparently quite popular Divergent trilogy of young adult novels — is, essentially, a massive, leaden blob of CGI effects after heavy saturation of adolescent hormones. Which, if you're into that sort of thing, you'll probably find enjoyable enough.

The problem is, there's little to nothing to watch it for that already hasn't already showed up in the Young Adult Dystopian Sci-Fi genre at this point. If you've seen The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, then you've already seen almost every idea at play here already.

Inside a city mysteriously walled off from the rest of the world (The Maze Runner) a number of factions/classes of humanity specialized to certain traits apparently do whatever they do while the central government oppresses some of them known as Divergents. Divergents are, er, divergent from the rest because they have elements of all the faction specialties within their capabilities. For whatever reason these greater-capacity humans are being hunted down as a problem (like the X-Men) and form resistance groups, so on, so forth, like The Hunger Games. Cue literary representation of teenage alienation issues.

The factionalization of the population within the massive city was done by an external, even more apocalyptic society, apparently under the theory that, through separating out skillsets for generations until a few people crop up with all of them, they've created awesome new people who'll fix whatever shithole exists outside the wall. The Maze Runner again.

Amidst all of this is a lot of fairly typical adolescent issues stuff — romance and angst and insecurity and coping with loss and self insecurity and parental issues, so on, so forth.

I am not an automatic naysayer in terms of the Young Adult Dystopian genre. Such genre work has its place as much as any genre work, and Y.A. serves adolescents and teenagers as an introduction and doorway into the wider spectrum of genre fiction — in this case, mostly science fiction.

There's nothing wrong with this stuff on the whole — the problem here is, there's really nothing in this film you haven't seen already done in the others that have already come down the pike, and there aren't enough new wrinkles to make this one seem even vaguely fresh and interesting.

Shailene Woodley and Theo James are really trying hard to rise above the now-pedestrian material they're delivering onscreen. But there's only so much they can do in roles that require them to constantly grab each other's wrist or arm as they're walking away to spin them around for a heartfelt revelation or confrontation, or find new expressions to show their disgust or puzzlement toward the cliche "completely morally repugnant sociopath villain character" and the equally cliche "difficult to determine whether he/she is a turncoat or not through the bitter sarcasm" character.

Still, the movie's not completely inept. While it feels like a second or third generation cassette, it at least seems to try to make sense a lot of the time and, thank heaven, doesn't apply the hideous love triangle that so often pops up in such efforts that are centered around an adolescent female.

It's not completely free of stupid convenience — a late in the game insurgent army invasion is apparently able to get untold stories up toward the top of a central office building before militarized security can even notify the leadership they've invaded — but at least it seems to be trying, which is more than I can say for, say, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

For a film with a title like Insurgent, it's ironic that it's about the safest, most paint-by-numbers, most predictable application of this genre yet. And, sadly, that makes it the least interesting.