The film, released last Thursday, is based on Veronica Roth’s young-adult fiction novel. It picks up right where the first film left off: with the famed duo on the run. This time, though, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is dealing with her own set of issues — symptoms of post-traumatic stress, which become the main drive of the film.
It starts off with the ruthless Eric (Jai Courtney) pulling a box out of Tris’ former home in Abnegation, which becomes the object of desire in the almost two-hour-long tale.
Of course, it can only be unlocked by someone who is divergent and who can endure a simulation test through all five factions: Amity, Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite.
Wonder who that could be...
Tormented by nightmares, Tris’ dreams blend with her reality. After losing both of her parents, killing a friend and seeing hundreds of others die, her shaky and violent reactions aren’t surprising.
Even physically, Tris takes on a new look. At the beginning of the movie she hacks off her hair, and most of the time her hair looks as disheveled as she is. And Woodley does a phenomenal job of construing this: In many scenes she stands with her arms crossed and makes direct eye contact. Woodley’s perfect posture gives the sense that she is not to be trifled with.
She often reacts irrationally and with severe aggression, as someone with extreme anxiety might — that is, until enough people die and she hands herself over to Jeanine (Kate Winslet), a highly anticipated event.
It isn’t until Tris resolves to give herself up that she can finally accept and even reciprocate Four’s (Theo James) irrevocable attachment to her. Poor Four.
Her ability to unlock the box later in the flick is also indicative of her mental instability. In order to fulfill all five factions to the fullest extent, her mind has to be scattered and almost dysfunctional.
To make it worse, Tris is painfully naive. She and Four ignore his father, Marcus (Ray Stevenson), as he attempts to provide key information regarding the elusive box. It is hard to say if her innocence is as important in the book or if it is added in the adaptation.
Despite her naiveté, Tris knows how to use a gun, and she isn’t afraid of it, either. Death by gunfire is a common theme, with at least two people being shot at point-blank range. The violence in the film falls nothing short of being rated PG-13.
By the end, Tris’ character goes through a major personality change, making her the most dynamic character in the whole feature.
Among other dystopic-themed novels and movies, the series does fall a bit short. The dialogue, as well as the plot, is unbearably predictable at times. Perhaps it is because the novel was written for young adults. For example, Jeanine kills all of the test subjects by pushing them to the extreme during the simulations. When Four runs after Tris once, she gives herself up.
Even with the poorly planned script, the film still pulls through, in part due to its developed graphics, thanks to a change in directors.
For the second installment, the franchise switched directors, replacing Neil Burger with Robert Schwentke. Schwentke must have a hankering for broken glass or the idea of shattering, because every five to 10 minutes there was a scene with something crumbing or breaking into pieces. It was like Inception Part 2.
Even one of the movie posters frames the duo, Tris and Four, in glass shards.
Granted, it does further the idea of “crazy” or Tris’ broken spirit, but it was a tad excessive. The graphics as a whole were exhilarating; constructing a rundown city with precision takes money, and they certainly spent a lot on it. About $85 million was spent producing the film, according to Forbes.com.
It’s hard to really get a feel for the environment because it’s so computerized. Some of the scenes feel natural, but only for a brief moment. That could also be why the costumes are so bland and rarely change.
The duration of their time on the lam, plus the time spent in the city and then to the end, isn’t clear, but based on the number of costume changes it would seem it happened in a little less than a week.
Even with some small and egregious errors, the film pulls out OK. It gets a three out of five.
Definitely worth a watch. In fact, I might see it again, but in cheaper theaters.
Moriah Carty is a culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MoriahCarty.