13 September 2015

Movie Review: “The Divergent Series: Insurgent”

Rated: PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements, and brief language
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet
Released: 2015
Synopsis: To save the future, they must unlock the past.  This follow-up to the smash hit Divergent raises the stakes for Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley, The Secret Life of the American Teenager) as she searches for both answers and allies.  On the run and targeted by ruthless faction leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet, Titanic), Tris fights to protect the people she loves, facing one impossible challenge after another as she and Tobias “Four” Eaton (Theo James) race to unlock the truth about the past—and, ultimately, the future—of their world.
(Adapted from the back cover of the DVD)

The Good: As was the case with the first film in the series, this second installment retains much of what made its prequel great: amazing action sequences, likable heroes, a chilling villainess, and, especially, an all-too-real portrait of where our society could be headed.  The performances were outstanding, especially Ms. Woodley playing both good Tris and evil Tris in one scene.  As you’d expect from a big budget production like this, the special effects were wonderful.

The Bad: Now, I’m about to undo all that praise.  I had a serious issue with this movie: the way the heroine is objectified.  I’m a big fan of strong women, and Tris definitely holds her own here…but, two unnecessary scenes involving her—one sex scene, another with her in the shower—serve no purpose other than to appeal to lustful young males.  In a film like this, you need a strong character…but she shouldn’t be required to take off her clothes.  Of lesser note is the profanity: There’s not all that much, but, the writers felt the need to add in an f-word.  Seriously? The violence alone could have earned a “PG-13”; there’s no need to put that in the dialogue, considering how light the rest of the film is in that department.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Two teenagers are seen engaging in sexual intercourse; no private anatomy is shown.  The same two kids also are seen passionately kissing, when another character quips about doing such a thing “later”. 1/5
  • Nudity: During the sex scene, a girl’s bare back and shoulders are seen, and a guy’s bare chest is seen; the rest is left to the mind’s eye.  Elsewhere, both the heroine and main villainess show cleavage, and girls in midriff-baring outfits are seen three or four times. The heroine is also seen from the waist up in the shower; her arms are crossed over her chest. 2/5
  • Language: Two uses of the s-word, once combined with “bull”; one or two uses of the d-word; one use of the f-word. 3/5
  • Violence: Fights and gunplay are seen throughout; people are tackled, shot at, shot dead, punched, kicked, wrestled, etc., countless times, and it gets bloody once or twice. 2/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: The entire movie takes place in a dystopian society, and the atmosphere is decidedly dark and brooding.  A main character is thought to be killed, but then comes alive.  Some emotional intensity is also present. 1/5
Conclusion: One of the reasons I generally avoid “young adult” entertainment is because it tends to focus on sex; I’ve seen too many books within that genre that I could tell were dirty just by the cover image.  “The Hunger Games” was an exception, and was engaging and rather well-made.  While this movie doesn’t focus on sex, it dabbles in it way too much for my tastes, and spends too much time objectifying its heroine.  You can make a female character strong, but, if you also make her take her clothes off…you’re still turning her into an object.  Will Hollywood ever learn?  After this mess and the disappointing literary experience that was “Allegiant,” I’m not going to bother with this series anymore; it did a Fonzie and jumped the shark…quite badly.

Score: 1.5/5

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