Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Divergent Series: Insurgent 3D Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Based on Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times best-selling novel Insurgent, The Divergent Series: Insurgent raises the stakes for Tris (Woodley) as she searches for answers and allies in this star-powered, action-packed second installment of the Divergent series. On the run and targeted by ruthless faction leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet), Tris fights to protect the people she loves, facing one impossible challenge after another as she and Four (James) race to unlock the truth about the past—and ultimately the future—of their world.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Insurgent is the sophomore film in the Divergent franchise based on the Young Adult novels by Veronica Roth.  In a post apocalyptic city (formerly Chicago), great walls protect the city dwellers from unknown dangers.   People inside the city are grouped into categories, or factions.  If you are brave, you are Dauntless. Selfless, you are Abnegation. Smart are Erudite. Honest is Candor. The peaceful are Amity. The faction system is how social order is maintained. In this film, the Divergents and their sympathizers will discover why their kind are so dangerous to the council leaders and the factioned society.

Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is Divergent; she does not fit into any one category.  Acting Council Leader Jeanine Mathews (Kate Winslet) has been searching for divergent individuals.  There was quite a bit of drama at the end of Divergent, and as Insurgent begins; Jeanine blames a rogue group of Divergents posing as Dauntless.  Tris, her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Peter Hayes (Miles Teller) and Four (Theo James) are the Dauntless conspirators on the run.  They have been given shelter by the Amity faction and are being chased by Dauntless bad guy Eric (Jai Courtney).

A box has been discovered which can only be opened by a Divergent.  Jeanine has been capturing and using Divergents but they are not surviving the trials.  Eric uses a new device which identifies a Divergent and also reveals their level of divergence.  As expected, Tris turns out to be 100 % divergent and is Jeanine’s best hope at discovering the secrets of the box.

Insurgent takes Tris through an emotional roller coaster bigger than the one she faced in the first film.  She’s still dealing with the tragedies of the first film while being hunted in the second.  If it bothers you that the drama is manufactured in a way that drags the girl through the ringer, this film probably isn’t for you.   It feels a lot like Insurgent is just getting us to the third film.  Again, I’m okay with that but others may not be.  I enjoyed it, without considering myself a huge fan of the franchise.  Shailene Woodley is to be commended for taking the dramatic acting up a notch.  She has a tearful scene where a truth serum is administered forcing her to admit her s/ns from the first film that’s impressive.  Kate Winslet plays a very believable bad guy, slowly revealing new levels of evil.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Insurgent is presented on Blu-ray AVC (2D) and MVC (3D) encoded 1080p transfers in a 2.40:1 ratio.  The film is sharp and immensely detailed.  There is more color than you’d expect in the war torn city. We meet the Amity faction in the lush greens of the wilderness and they are clothed in warm tones. In the dilapidated parking lot that is home to the factionless, there are endless details to notice thanks to some amazing production designers. Jeanine’s world is clean and crisp while other sets are dark and dirty. The entire spectrum of color pops when appropriate and fades away when necessary. The film offers substantial CGI effects that all fit seamlessly with the live action.  As you would expect the directionality of some of the elements is planned to send something flying in the face of the 3D viewer.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Depending on how you watch the film, you’ll be treated to a Dobly True HD 7.1 experience or downgraded to a 5.1 track. The action, effects and dialogue are well balanced and I had no complaints watching the film on a Blu-ray player (PS3 users have reported the downgrading issue).  You’ll notice the action but also the silence with this excellent audio presentation.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The 2D Blu-ray contains the following special features:
  • Audio Commentary with Producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher - A commentary without the Director or actors is just not as interesting as one with two producers. They seemed to have more to say on the Divergent commentary, but offered interesting information about actor Jai Courtney’s physical abilities and bartending skills.
  • Insurgent Unlocked: The Ultimate Behind-the-Scenes Access – This is a feature length extra with picture in a picture which seems odd at first but makes sense as time goes on. Each featurettes can be played individually, separated into the following topics:
    • Building a Bigger World
    • Creating the Big Screen Experience
    • Exploring the Factionless
    • From Factionless to Candor
    • A New Landscape of Weapons and Stunts
    • Composers and Simulators
  • A Fight to the Finish From Divergent to Insurgent (5:09) – a basic featurette with cast and crew interviews discussing storyline.
  • The Others: Cast and Characters (3:40) - a brief look at the primary characters.
  • Anatomy of a Scene: The Train Fight (4:01) - features the action sequence that takes place on side by side trains.
  • The Peter Hayes Story (2:40) - a look at Miles Teller’s character Peter’s background.
  • Divergent: Adapting Insurgent to the Screen (4:00) - includes behind the scenes footage and interviews discussing the story and the screenplay.
  • Marketing Gallery
    Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
    Excellent audio and video quality on both the 2D and 3D Blu-rays brings the overall score for this film up to a 4/5. The 2D Blu-ray contains a healthy list of supplemental features and the film was enjoyable overall. The film is certainly a bridge between Divergent and the third novel. If you enjoy dystopian angst for the teen market (and I do) you’ll find it worth the time. I prefer The Hunger Games franchise but I this is one I’m glad to own and will watch it again from time to time.

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