It’s as if a middle school girl woke up from a dream, wrote down what she remembered, and someone said ‘This is incredible. Let’s make this into a movie!’ That’s what Insurgent feels like.
Plunging deeper and deeper down the rabbit-hole of comic-book films, I took a brief respite from caped heroes this weekend to enjoy what I hoped would be a classier movie. Maybe a calm coming-of-age story. Or something with someone British doing something British. Those movies tend to work out well. Sadly, my plan quickly fell apart when my friends convinced me (against minimal protest) to see Insurgent. Last summer a few of us spent a few hours watching Divergent then spent many more hours mocking the laughably bad film. But Divergent falls into the illusive “so bad it’s good” category while Insurgent lands into the easier to locate “so bad..just sooooo bad” trash bin.
When I reviewed Divergent, I used the film as a soapbox to advocate for film adaptations of books. While Divergent may not be the best movie one uses to defend films for any reason, I still believe in the capacity for films to adapt and improve on their source. That being said, I can’t even imagine how bad the source must be for Insurgent to end up as the stain it is for movie-screens around the world. There are really very few redeeming qualities for the film. So few in fact, that it is difficult to pinpoint where everything goes wrong because there really is nothing that goes right. Casting is a problem. As charming as Shailene Woodley may be, she is no Jennifer Lawrence and is almost totally unbelievable in her action hero role. The writing is laughable throughout and pockmarked by shocking one-liners that make you wonder if the script was written by some computer algorithm programmed by a collection of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. The plot is so flimsy, ill-conceived and illogical I don’t have much to say about it. There are a few “plot twists” which I doubt were intentional but more a product of unbelievable characters acting in irrational ways. So twists comes when a poorly conceived character acts out of “character”. Executions abound as several characters are conveniently dispatched with little buildup to their deaths and no impact afterwards. In the film’s final moments, one possible path for the next film in the series appears, only to be instantly and irreverently destroyed by convenient timing and coincidence.
Truthfully, I have few positive things to say about this film. Actually I have only one solitary compliment I can give which is that the film does at least look like a film. That’s more than I could say for The Legend of Hercules which looks more like a network TV show. Adequate, and sometimes above adequate effects are used, mostly in Insurgents dream sequences. Luckily these are in fact dream sequences because even though the effects are satisfying, they are in no way realistic. Unrealistic not just because they feature a floating burning house, but unrealistic in the way that poorly rendered CGI films can appear. Still, the special effects can not save action sequences in which Woodley and crew square off against hundreds of soldiers who may very well be drunk or at least visually impaired since they prove completely unable to hit their target despite spraying hundreds of bullets at point-blank range. The film’s heroes have some of the strongest plot armor I have ever seen.
Bottom-Line: I saw this movie for free. But I still feel like I lost something while sitting in that theater.
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