In the wake of “Harry Potter” and “Twilight,” we continue to receive a glut of cinematic adaptations of popular young adult book series. Unfortunately, most have left audiences unmoved, either because of poor adaptations or less-than-stellar source material.
So I was pleasantly surprised this time last year when I saw “Divergent,” the adaptation of the first novel in Veronica Roth’s book series. Although the film has some story issues, a very strong performance from Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) as Beatrice Prior, who was in turn a very compelling character, easily overcame the defects found elsewhere.
And now we have “Insurgent,” an adaptation of the second novel in the series, and while Beatrice and Woodley continue to shine, the story problems remain and have become harder to ignore. As I mentioned in my review of “Divergent,” I haven’t read these books, so I don’t know if the problems are a result of the adaptations or inherent in the source material, but there are definite cracks in the story’s foundation, which coupled with a less compelling character arc compared to the first film, leaves “Insurgent” feeling very thin by the end.
“Insurgent” does not live up to the promise of “Divergent,” but if you enjoyed the first film, this one is still worth watching thanks mostly to Woodley, who gives another strong performance even if her character isn’t quite as compelling as she was before. I’d still like to see what happens next to these characters, but I won’t be awaiting the third installment with the same anticipation I had for “Insurgent.”
The film is rated PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language.
(This is a shortened version of the full review available in our printed or e-edition papers.)