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‘Insurgent’ fails to satisfy fandom

Second movie of the ‘Divergent’ series disappoints

Michael Cochran, Staff Reporter
Originally published May 10, 2015

Every time the author of a popular book series announces that they are moving into the cinematic world, the die-hard fans of the series begin forming ideas for the cast and favorite scenes.

“Divergent,” Veronica Roth’s three part science fiction series is now under the spotlight and undergoing the book-to-movie process. The first book, “Divergent” was written in 2011. “Insurgent” and “Allegiant,” followed in subsequent years and by 2013, production began on a film adaptation for the series.

The first “Divergent” movie was released in 2014 and director Neil Burger elicited positive reactions from audiences despite plot and character changes.

One of the biggest disappointments of the first film came with the omission of main character Uriah and the drastic change to the end. A forum entitled, “Why no Uriah?” was created on the website Goodreads, giving some loyal fans a place to criticize the omission of a favorite character. Fans dismissed most of the faults with the assumption that the next film would contain less oversight.

Unfortunately, the first film was only the beginning.

“Insurgent,” the series’ sophomore installment returned with director Robert Schwentke, who picked up where Burger left off, managing to pull the franchise even further from it’s original story.

The plot changes were evident in the first trailers that came out for the movie. The main character, Tris, was in a scene where she was jumping through a floating house that was on fire. Visually, the scene was appealing, but to true fans, there was confusion; as far as anyone could tell, that scene never occurred in the books.

Also in the trailer, a box is mentioned by the antagonist, Jeanine. She says that she needs the divergent people so that she can open the box and get coveted information out of it. No such box is apparent in the books.

Before the movie even came out, it seemed as though the directors and producers were hoping that the visual effects and action, which were cool, would compensate for the changes that were made in the story. They seem to underestimate how much a true story line means to a fandom.

Like the first movie, the biggest change in plot came at the end. In this case, a main character’s murder is carried out by a different character in the movie than in the book.

This disrupted the movie’s dynamic because that character’s death was extremely important to the original killer, Tris. Every action that she performs in the movie and book is taken with the intent on killing this particular character, but in the end, she doesn’t get to carry it out.

The difference in plot wasn’t the only issue. The acting chemistry was missing and the cast was overly star-studded.

Shailene Woodley and Theo James, who play Tris and Four respectively, just did not seem to have the chemistry of two first-time lovers. The books portray this relationship, despite its rocky moments, as two people very deeply in love. In the movie it felt as though they were a couple of kids who liked making out.

The star-filled cast proved just how precious no name actors can be. In similar book-to-movie series like “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games,” the main characters were all cast with actors that were either undiscovered or very up-and-coming.

“Insurgent” filled its cast with as many stars as possible. In addition to Ashley Judd and Kate Winslet, Academy Award nominees Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer came on for the second movie.

Actors Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller have acted together before and they worked well in the first film adaptation, but in “Insurgent,” movie watchers were already familiar with them as stars.

With all of these stars, it was hard to focus on the plot line.

Not that the plot line was very interesting anyways. The book is filled with devious schemes, relationship troubles and very well thought-out character development that sets a precedent for the third installment of the series “Allegiant.” The movie fails to include any of these aspects.

In fact, Tris and Four’s dramatic relationship constitutes the majority of the tension in the book. The reader feels as though they are experiencing the struggles of a real, budding relationship. This is an important aspect of relationships that is overlooked by many directors and authors.

The movie included very little of this relationship drama. They seem to be two naive teenagers who have no cares in the world, but each other. Tris and Four even have sex in the movie. In the books, their abstinence is a very important theme until the end of the series.

The character development in “Insurgent” was just another point of disappointment for those hoping to see something of their favorite books mirrored in the film. Uriah is a main character throughout the series and was missing in the first movie. In “Insurgent” he has about 10 minutes of screen time.

Overall, “Insurgent,” as a film, lacked the qualities that made the book such a huge success. There are parts of the original story that come through, but for the most part, the portrayal on the screen is a story created by Schwentke. For loyal fans, it is hard to see such beloved stories and characters be morphed into something almost unfamiliar on screen.

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‘Insurgent’ fails to satisfy fandom