ByWill Reitz, writer at Creators.co
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Will Reitz

The Divergent Series: A poorman's Hunger Games.

I was incredibly underwhelmed by Divergent. As Honest Trailers so accurately and hilariously points out, every significant theme of Divergent is a rip-off of The Hunger Games. I thought Shailene Woodley was, well, wooden. I never bought the chemistry between her Tris & Theo James' Four. I found the entire premise to be contrived & simplistic. The concept of a society divided along rigid lines of skill & aptitude - and the threat posed by divergents whose skills warrant inclusion into multiple factions - was totally undone by the ability to choose one's faction despite required aptitude tests. In other words, there was very little to like about Divergent. And no reason to anticipate the sequel to be any better.

Behold, I was wrong. Insurgent is a clear improvement, head-&-shoulders above Divergent.

Once, no sequel could outpace an original. Jaws was an incredible phenomenon, launching the very concept of a "summer movie." It produced 3 very bad sequels. Disney spent most of my childhood making incredible animated movies and straight-to-video sequels so mailed-in that they required postage. Only 2 sequels have every won Best Picture, and both do so with an asterisk: The Godfather, Part II won Best Picture, but so did The Godfather, and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won Best Picture, but nearly everyone considers that win to represent the excellence of the entire trilogy. In short, sequels cannot be as good as the original movie.

But the entire genre of movies made from YA novels seems to bump this trend. The Hunger Games was not a great movie. It established the world, but not well. The entire concept of a Hunger Games competition was underdeveloped for a concept so despicable and frightening. But, once the world was established, Catching Fire & Mockingjay, part 1 have been clear improvements. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone did a fine job of launching the series, but for my money, The Chamber of Secrets is a clearly superior film, as are final two films of the franchise.

Insurgent was an improvement in terms of acting, setting, and concept. The villains are more believable, the conflict more understandable, and the politics more realistic.

The verdict: B ... Catch this movie in the theaters, though you probably will not lose much by waiting for its Netflix release.

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