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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Insurgent is the second installment in the Divergent trilogy. Based on the best-selling dystopian books by Veronica Roth, Insurgent continues the story of heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her love, Four (Theo James). Like the first movie, Insurgent is less violent than the book, but there's still mass shootings of mind-control trackers, execution-style murders, torture, and a fake death. Language includes one quickly uttered "f--k" and a couple uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," and "bitch," but it's not frequent. Tris and Four's romance heats up in this installment -- far beyond what's described in the source book. One scene suggests that they've slept together, but nothing is visible beyond bare backs, shoulders, and kissing. The movie stays true to portraying Tris as a brave, headstrong, selfless protagonist who doesn't just let her boyfriend fight her battles.
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What's the story?
INSURGENT picks up a little bit after Divergent left off, with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) hiding out in the Amity Faction with Tris' brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort); Four's father, Marcus (Ray Stevenson); and Peter (Miles Teller). Meanwhile, council leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) has pinned the Abnegation massacre on Tris, Four, and a rogue band of Divergents, so she orders all Divergents rounded up and brought in to Erudite headquarters. What she really wants is to find a Divergent who can survive the simulations of all five Factions and open a mysterious box left by the Factions' founders, but her subjects keep dying -- until she discovers that it's Tris she needs to open the message. On the run again, Tris and Four need to find the remaining Dauntless members and make an uneasy alliance with the Factionless, who are led by Evelyn (Naomi Watts), someone from Four's past.
Is it any good?
Book purists will certainly have a lot of material to bemoan about this sequel. For every positive element that's true to the story (we finally meet Uriah, played by Aussie hunk Keiynan Lonsdale; Winslet and Watts are fabulous as leaders with very different views of the Factions; and Teller steals his scenes as opportunistic, sarcastic Peter), there too many underwhelming, underplayed, and divergent (pardon the pun) bits from the original story. Even given the expectation that an adaptation will sometimes dramatically change the elements that jump from page to screen, the Insurgent filmmakers made some head-scratching choices that don't bode well for the future of the franchise.
What is still engaging about the series is the strength of Woodley's acting, the intense appeal of James as Four (their chemistry is debatable, but it's still more believable than Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson's in the Hunger Games films), and the veteran actors all doing their best with a series that isn't connecting as seamlessly on the screen as it did on the page. During a few scenes, Woodley fans may marvel (and laugh) at seeing her interact with James, Teller, and Elgort -- all of whom she's had romantic relationships with in movies. The visuals and simulations in this film are also even more dazzling than the ones in Divergent. It will be interesting to see how the screenwriter and director handle the plot and perspective changes of Roth's highly divisive final book, Allegiant, for the last two movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of movies based on dark, violent dystopian/futuristic fantasy books. What purpose does the violence serve in Insurgent? Is it different to see violence rather than to read about it?
Discuss Tris and Four's romance. How do they compare to other couples in young adult literature? How does their relationship develop on screen versus in the book?
Woodley has starred in several page-to-screen adaptations, three of them with co-stars in this film. How did you feel about her interacting with three actors who've played her love interests in other movies?
Fans of the book: Is the movie a faithful adaptation? What differences did you like, and which scenes or lines from the book did you miss?
- In theaters: March 20, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: August 4, 2015
- Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort
- Director: Robert Schwentke
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Book Characters, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Courage
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language
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