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Four (Theo James, left), Peter (Miles Teller, center), and Tris (Shailene Woodley, right) star in The Divergent Series: Insurgent.

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★★✩✩✩

Insurgent

Based on novels by Veronica Roth

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller

PG-13

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A cast full of teenage heartthrobs? Check. Based on a popular Young Adult dystopian book series? Check. Was the book better? Probably.

Insurgent was the highly anticipated sequel to Divergent; both films were adaptations of Veronica Roth’s bestselling Divergent Trilogy. Shailene Woodley, portraying Tris Prior, and Theo James, playing Tobias Eaton (also known as, Four) maintained the strong performances they exhibited in the first film. Miles Teller, who plays Peter, really invigorated the show, making backhanded compliments and providing comic relief in otherwise stressful and dark scenes.

Divergent was easy to follow even if you were unfamiliar with the series before you saw it, but Insurgent didn’t make a whole lot of sense if you hadn’t read the book version. I could appreciate the themes of class warfare, that the main characters were running for their lives, and that there was something very wrong with this society, but I got all of that from the first film too.

Insurgent had a lot of action and excitement, and the “sims” (virtual reality simulations) that Tris endures have some impressive special effects, but it was difficult to piece together why many of these exciting events were happening — what exactly is everyone fighting for in the first place? We meet some new characters sort of randomly, in a deus ex machina fashion, and we witness huge betrayals that seem to come out of nowhere. I found the dialogue to be lacking, and the more romantic scenes between Four and Tris didn’t seem to do anything for the plot. This is unfortunate because the film really did have a strong cast. The movie’s ending was probably intended to be surprising, but it couldn’t have been more cliche.

Overall, Insurgent is entertaining if you are looking for an exciting action-packed movie, but not so much if you prefer something more engaging and unconventional. There is a third book to adapt for the big screen and naturally, they are milking the franchise for all it is worth, releasing it in two parts. Hopefully, they’ll use the extra time to explain what is going on and focus less on creating The Matrix-esque action scenes.