This Friday (March 20), audiences nationwide will finally find out what happened to Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and the rest of Chicago when "The Divergent Series: Insurgent" picks up where the 2014 hit left off -- in complete and utter chaos.
MTV News had a chance to screen "Insurgent" a few weeks back, and we're here to tell you that the film -- which is based on Veronica Roth's book trilogy, of course, and has a new director in Robert Schwentke -- is worth the price of admission. Here's why:
It's more grown up.
In the first movie, Tris was very much an internal character, still figuring out who she wanted to be and where her place was within Chicago's dystopian faction-based society. In "Insurgent," however, Tris is all grown up after that ill-fated attempt to save her parents from brainwashed Dauntless soldiers. Making Tris more sure of who she is and what she wants to do works well on many levels -- Woodley is the star of the show, after all, and she's at her best when she's kicking ass and bravely making her own decisions. This kind of franchise needs a hero (or heroine) we can root for, and I think "Divergent" fans will like Tris 2.0. Even if they don't love her hair.
There's much less world building -- which leaves time for more fun!
One of the main issues with the "Divergent" universe is how complicated it is. Unlike "The Hunger Games," whose "kids fight to the death on live television" concept is very easy to grasp, the first "Divergent" movie (and book) had to deal with the daunting task of explaining Tris' world, its faction system, its various serums and simulations, and so on and so forth. So much world-building can weigh a movie down, which is why "Insurgent" feels much more light and evenly-paced than its predecessor.
We (and Tris) hit the ground running, and never truly stop until the film's final, shocking moment. (More on that in a second.)
Miles Teller steals the show...
It's a shame that Teller said he felt "dead inside" after taking on the role of Peter, because his character -- who is still a major a--hole -- provides some much needed dry, comic levity during moments of heavy action. Even though we probably should want Peter dead for all of his betrayals, his insults, and his maddening flip-flopping, we love him for his sense of humor, and for his status as a quasi audience surrogate when stuff at Amity gets a little bit too ridiculous.
... But Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts aren't too far behind.
Woodley is fantastic as the series' Katniss/Harry Potter/Chosen One-style hero, but villain Winslet and shady ally Watts are just as good in more adult, cerebral roles. Winslet is so intense as Jeanine that we actually kind of want her to succeed at points just to figure out why she cares about Divergents so much, and Watts is clearly hiding a lot behind that motherly smile that drives Four so insane. She'll be one to watch when "Allegiant - Part 1" hits theaters next year.
The special effects kick it up a notch.
We experienced a snippet of what Jeanine's treacherous serums can do in "Divergent," but in the sequel, the impact of these "fear landscapes" is fully felt -- and they're awesome, and terrible, and awesomely terrible. The Ashley-Judd-in-a-box sequence we saw in the first teaser trailer is quite literally only the beginning of a visually gorgeous extended nightmare, and since these simulations now have real-life consequences, they're heart-pumping from start to finish.
It's different from the books.
This might be a big seller for those of you who didn't like the way the "Divergent" series wrapped up -- which, you know, is basically everyone. Characters die in "Insurgent" who are still alive by the time "Allegiant" picks up in the books, and others die much, much differently than they did on the page. This provides a glimmer of hope that the "Allegiant" films might switch things up a bit, and who knows, possibly even change that ending.
Ansel Elgort runs like Phoebe from "Friends."
Maybe this isn't a selling point for everyone, but we sure loved watching Ansel play up Caleb's lack of athleticism (he told MTV News all about it here) as he tries to fit in with the Dauntless. Ansel is a 6'4" giant ball of adorable, and a pretty solid representation of what the rest of us would be like if we had to run away from mad men like Eric (Jai Courtney) who are carrying giant guns.
"The Divergent Series: Insurgent" hits theaters on March 20.