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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Insurgent (Blu-ray)
Insurgent (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // PG-13 // August 4, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $35.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted August 11, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Up until seeing Insurgent, I had not really seen any extended stretch of the Young Adult dystopian films that seem to get released every quarter. I just lacked any substantive interest in seeing (female lead of the moment) battle against (well-respected, perhaps even Oscar-winning grown-up who serves as antagonist) for the sake of liberating freedom for thousands, nay, millions of others in the not-too-distant future. Does that make me an old? I guess so. But at least I can check that box off now with Insurgent being in this person's movie-experiencing books.

Veronica Roth wrote Insurgent, part of the trilogy of books in the Divergent series. In Insurgent. Robert Schwentke (R.I.P.D.) takes over as director for the trilogy, replacing Neil Burger (The Illusionist). A trio of new writers are brought into Insurgent also, specifically Mark Bomback (The Wolverine), Akiva Goldsman (Winter's Tale) and Brian Duffield. The film picks up days after the film's antagonist Jeanine (Kate Winslet, A Little Chaos) has captured a mysterious box that can be opened by Divergents, whom I'll oversimplify and call ‘child Neos' for this exercise. She tries to hunt down and capture them to try and open this box.

Meanwhile, the Divergent named Tris, (Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort, Carrie) and her friends Four (Thoe James, Underworld: Awakening) and Peter (Miles Teller, Whiplash), who try to avoid capture while trying to find their place amongst the factionless, where they can live in some fashion of peace, or at least as much as one can have in blown-out pseudo-Chicago.

In the process of watching Insurgent, I was watching with my wife, who has read the books, and for me to some degree, served as a Divergent whisperer, if you will. Because I want to try and tamp down my old feelings, if nothing else because I've seen what I consider to be my fair share of Shailene Woodley movies through the years, via various forms of happenstance. I simply do not believe that she could carry a movie in what I have seen so far, or at least she has tried but the material has either bordered on or jumped headlong into silliness.

Strangely enough, Insurgent is an anomaly in the sense that Woodley's performance is decent, perhaps the best I've seen from her, and it's the material that's vapid. With Tris, she explores internal conflict and emotional depth like someone that has actually had some in her life, and her exploration of Tris makes Insurgent watching, if you are familiar with the material or not. Her scenes with James are fine, and Elgort and Teller round out the leads well, with Teller perhaps showing a small side of someone saying ‘I was in an Oscar nominated film, I'm past some of this Young Adult stuff.'

As far as if you have read the book or are hugely familiar with the first movie, fans of the Divergent series will likely be disappointed. If you were even lukewarm on the first film you're likely not to enjoy it here, and the adaptation choices in Insurgent leaned more towards action without any real moments of exposition. It forsook substance for style and seemed to have no remorse in doing so. At least, that's what my other half the one who invested the energy in the books and movies tells me.

It may have been better for me to have not seen these films, so I did not get confused and/or exasperated by the mythologies of the characters and storylines. In a weird sort of way, I enjoyed Insurgent for the departure that it was. I would not want to bring it home to the parents for dinner or anything, but it was enough entertainment that I would acquiesce to slapping the ‘guilty pleasure' label on it.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Lionsgate presents Insurgent in 2.40:1 widescreen and uses the AVC codec for the 2-D presentation of the film and MVC for the 3-D. For reviewing purposes I watched the entire 2-D disc and approximately 30 minutes (of the two-hour film) of the 3-D. The 3-D disc is OK, though the scant scenes to illustrate the multidimensional look of the film do not drop any jaws.

The 2-D disc does a much better job of this in the wider shots. Detail in this mysterious box (or caked blood from Tris' face during a fight) can be spotted, colors are accurate and look excellent, whether it is the whites of the room Jeanine uses to test Divergents, and set against the blue of her dress, bring together a transfer that looks marvelous on Blu-ray.

The Sound:

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack brings the goods from beginning to end. Gunfire packs a low-end punch to it as do the ample explosions. Fire fights include abundant and effective directional effects, and channel panning is just as present, such as in a moment when the action goes past a fire which pans from front to back. Dialogue is consistent and well-balanced throughout and is as clean as can be. I really enjoyed listening to this, despite the dearth of enjoyable entertainment.


Producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher do a commentary (No cast? No crew?) which does not shed much light on the film. It has a couple of anecdotal nuggets, but is mostly focused on the production and includes loads of watching. If you want actual substance, "Insurgent Unlocked" is your better bet. A picture in picture track you can play separately, it includes differents on the film from the first to second, and breaks down some of the cg stuff with animatics and various passes of a shot. Things like set designare show, and interviews with all of the cast and crew on the film are given here as well. If you like the film, this is the extra for you.

The rest of the extras are somewhat quick and can be skipped because of the picture in picture track. "From Divergent to Insurgent" (5:09) illustrates the differences in the two films, while "The Others" (3:40) explains the casting of that faction. "Anatomy of a Scene" (4:01) examines the first act fight on the train, and "The Peter Hayes Story" (2:40) is a quick featurette on Teller and his character. "Adapting Insurgent to the Screen" (4:00) discusses working with Roth, yet Goldsman wasn't found on it, and a marketing gallery is a series of stills for your convenience. A digital copy is included to boot.

Final Thoughts:

Insurgent proves to have a bit of a quandary: on one hand, in a vacuum it is not a horrible movie, and the performances are a bit better than anticipated. On the other hand, things are substantially changed from the mythology that was laid out in the first film and in the source material that any hope the final installment will be even watchable is a sketchy proposition. Technically, the disc is fan-damn-tastic, and the supplements are decent, but not worth writing home about. If you are looking for myopic popcorn entertainment, this…may do it.

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