InsurgentcoverGrade: B
Entire family: No
2015, 119 min., Color
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sexuality, thematic elements and brief language
Summit Entertainment
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Featured audio: English Dolby TrueHD Almos Mix
Includes: Blu-ray, Digital HD
Bonus features: B+ (four hours!)
Trailer
Amazon link

Some people seem to hate Divergent and Insurgent (the second installment in Veronica Roth’s Young Adult dystopian novels-come-to-film) because they’re not The Hunger Games. Or because they feel so structurally similar. My son hates them because he doesn’t think Shailene Woodley can carry a sci-fi action movie the way Jennifer Lawrence does in The Hunger Games. Then again, he’s a teenager, and it could be as simple as liking Lawrence that much more, or associating Woodley too much with a romantic weeper that he refused to watch: The Fault in Our Stars.

When I reviewed the Divergent Blu-ray a year ago I gave it a B because three out of four family members really enjoyed it, and I thought the film featured a nice balance of moral dilemmas and action packaged inside a relatively believable sci-fi world. Like the first film,  Insurgent was made for audiences, not critics, and the tone and pacing are similar,  with continuing characters and plenty of drama and action.

But this is a trilogy, and frankly we got most of the character development in the first film. In Divergent, Tris was faced with tough decisions, starting with which faction she should join and have to remain in for the rest of her life. Then there was her fight and constant struggle to make it through Dauntless training and keep her identity as a “divergent”—someone who has elements of several factions in her—a secret. To top it off, there was a developing romance between her and one of her superiors, and she seemed more complex that first outing because she was as fragile as she was tough.

InsurgentscreenHere she’s mostly tough, which means Tris really doesn’t grow as a character as much in this installment. What’s more, sci-fi fans might be disappointed that there’s less science fiction in Insurgent and more drama. Insurgent also pushes the main male character Tobias/Four (Theo James) slightly to the fringe while giving the oppressive Erudite leader (Kate Winslet) more screen time as she sends her Dauntless police in pursuit of the two Divergents. These are not bad things, especially if you consider that you’re watching the second act of a three-act extended screenplay.

You’ll need to have watched Divergent to appreciate or even understand what’s going on in this film. The action picks up just after Jeanine’s (Winslet’s) mind-controlled Dauntless obliterated Abnegation and she went on TV to blame divergents for the attack. So Tris and Four go on the run, first through factionless territory and then on to Candor. All the while they’re pursued by Dauntless traitors under the command of the sadistic Eric (Jai Courtney). Then there’s some hokum about a box that only a divergent can open, and that opens the door to criticism about the dystopian sci-fi elements. But if you don’t think too hard and just roll with the action, Insurgent makes for an enjoyable family movie night for households with teens. It’s rated PG-13, though, and deservedly so.

Language: A few “b” words and “a” words pop up, but nothing more. Pretty clean.
Sex: Nothing much, really. Just a kiss and a faux attack.
Violence: Punches and knives are thrown and there are some teen beatings and one suicide. The most traumatic might be semi-successful mass execution.
Adult situations: Some pursuit scenes might scare younger viewers.
Takeaway: Don’t listen to the naysayers. Divergent and Insurgent are decent dystopian sci-fi teen action movies that also hold appeal for viewers outside the target age range.

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