Movie review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Although the essence of the book is there, Insurgent diverges almost completely from the book. 

Disclaimer: This review originally appeared on Women24 as well as Women24's sister site, Channel24

Veronica Roth’s Divergent books is one of my favourite series to date.  Having devoured both the books and the Divergent film adaptation (which I surprisingly really enjoyed), I’ve been looking forward to seeing how the Insurgent movie would play out.

While it isn’t without its flaws, Insurgent is probably one of the better book-to-film adaptations I’ve seen.

I admit this grudgingly because I’m a book purist at heart and, as such, tend to appreciate films that remain as true to the novel as possible.

This is exactly why I spent half my time enjoying the cinematic and visual fest and half my time thinking “this is not how it was in the book.”

With Robert Schwentke in the director’s seat this time around, Insurgent isn’t so much of a direct adaptation as it is an interpretation of the novel.  In fact, Divergent’s film rendition is probably a lot closer to the book than Insurgent is.

The essence of the book is certainly there, and if you’ve read the book, you’ll certainly recognise many of the elements the movie includes.

What changes, however, is the following:

The dialogue and character interaction. 

This didn’t bother me as much as I expected to, but I think that it’s because so many of the actors and actresses I’ve seen in motion picture screenings based on books, fail to accurately capture the tone of the book dialogue (I’m looking at you Fault In Our Stars, which ironically enough, features Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who are cast in the role of brother and sister in this trilogy).

In fact, I dare say that Tris and Four (Woodley and Theo James) relate a lot better towards each other on-screen than they did in the first movie, where a huge chunk of the novel’s dialogue formed a large part of the film.

I have to go on to add that I was also impressed with Kate Winslet’s performance in the role of the cold and ruthless Jeanine Matthews.  While James and Woodley’s acting is certainly strong, Winslet, for the on-screen time that she gets, certainly adds an extra oomph that I really enjoyed seeing.

Something else that changes in the movie is that the people responsible for killing certain people in the books aren’t the same in the movie.  I’ll leave you to work out who I’m talking about (top tip: you should probably give the book a reread before you watch the movie).

The biggest disappointment for me though, is that with this interpretation of the movie, characters that played huge roles in the book are downplayed and relegated to minor roles, something which I felt, took the whole “team spirit” evident in the books away from the movie. Some of the characters that really made a huge impact in the book, were either not featured or just not given enough face time.

And, big surprise, many of those characters just so happened to be black. Oh, wait, that’s not a surprise at all.

The books clearly show how certain characters from various factions unite and stand together to fight, while in the movies, this is mostly glossed over.

Visually though, the movie was an absolute blast.

With 3D effects, CGI and beautiful and scenic panning, Insurgent certainly is an epic and cinematic  piece of entertainment that should definitely be experienced on the big screen.

If you can look past the niggles, I daresay you’ll probably enjoy it more than Divergent. 

My final take on it is that as a book adaptation it fails, but as an interpretation of the novel (and there IS a difference), it’s a pretty decent effort.

Go out and see the movie. You could do a lot worse


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