Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney, Mekhi Phifer, Ansel Elgort, Daniel Dae Kim, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Zoë Kravitz, Cynthia Barrett, Ashley Judd, and more.
Directed by: Robert Schwentke Screenplay by: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback Based on the Novel by: Veronica Roth
Premise: Having escaped Jeanine after foiling her plans, Tris finds her inner self conflicted with all that's happened, especially the loss of her mom. And a new wrinkle presents itself, Jeanine found a vessel that contains a message from the Founders, but only a Divergent can pass the tests necessary to open it. And she very badly wants it opened - as she believes it will give her a way to get rid of all Divergents once and for all. So she's more than willing to break even more rules than before to reach her goals. (Rated Pg-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Shailene Woodley did well as the unbalanced Tris. She and Theo James oozed chemistry throughout the film. Miles Teller was fun as bad boy Peter. Kate Winslet was cold as ice as Jeanine. Naomi Watts as Evelyn was rather interesting. Very hard to tell what side she's truly on.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The cool effects start with the credits. The Summit Entertainment and Red Wagon Logos looked amazing as they introduced them in the 3D and morphed them into Jeanine's image. The visuals were very good - like late in the film, when the city is coming totally apart during two of the sims.
There's one scene with Four where the image falls slowly apart that made for a great visual. Also the weird nano spider things looked very cool.
3) Story - Neutral: Sadly, the film makers forgot some basic rules: a) Not everyone has read the books b) Not everyone will have seen the first film c) Those who did see it, have probably forgotten a lot of details by now.
So instead of doing a quick recap of events, the audience is thrown into things with nothing to guide them. While it's easy enough to remember the main characters, the details behind Peter and Caleb were not as memorable, so it made it incredibly hard to understand some of what was going on or the feelings being kicked about at the beginning. Very bad move. The excitement that could have been built right off is instead hampered and made twice as hard to light.
As happens in a lot of science fiction movies and some books, they can never seem to find a balance between the science level indicated vs. other tech used. If you can make nano machine spiders that are intelligent enough to try to fight against you taking them out, then why can't you make them good enough to heal your wounded hand? Through the entire film, Jeanine is cradling her bandaged hand. This from a culture with science that can make virtual reality feel real, put living nano technology inside you without any drawbacks, and use other tech to take over your mind. Yet no tech to help your booboo? Right...
There were some definitely good moments - some snappy zingers cropped up here and there. But they were only moments. The whole concept of the 'secret in a container' seemed out of place and contrived, as I don't believe it was ever mentioned in the first film. The leftover bad guy from the first film had to reach useless heights of depravity just so there would be sufficient reason built to shoot him while he was helpless with his hands tied. Which pretty much overrides the act, making it wrong as well. (Though it will uncannily resemble a later act by his mother...)
The ending was odd as well. The message in the container did not surprise me, but the mass exodus of the population did. They all know there's at least thirty miles of desert out there - we had some awesome shots of it in the first film! - so where do they think they're going without transportation or water?
There are two more films coming out for the series - but the ending of this one, made us think there this was it. Only found out there's two more while doing research at IMDB. Would a tiny hint have hurt? "The Maze Runner" did that much at least.
4) Stunts - Thumbs Up: There are fights in several parts of the film, but most were the usual. The fight on the train was very nice though. Some explosions and decent stunt work, but again nothing overtly unusual.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Somewhat outdone by the sims, there were still some great shots of the real city. The collapsed areas and people having to traverse them by foot were definitely impressive. The dried up river with the half drawn bridges was definitely a nice visual. (Though why in 200 years you'd not done some renovating seems rather weird - especially with some of the grandiose buildings in some of the sectors.)
Conclusion: With the lack of a recap putting the viewers off center, the film never heats up as much as it could have with the audience. Some cool sims, some snappy lines, but really nothing much to get really excited about. Which was a pity. You'll think this is the end, but there's two more movies coming. But no hint of it in the film at all. Too bad.
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)