Insurgent Movie Review: Cheesy and Illogical

March 20, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Features

I’ve never laughed so hard at a movie that wasn’t trying to be funny. I knew Insurgent was going to be cheesy from the trailer, but I wasn’t prepared for how cheesy it actually was.

You know that cringe-worthy scene of Four jumping in front of a train from the trailer? That’s just a preview of what to expect from the Insurgent movie. It’s filled with Matrix slow down effects and overprocessed, cheesy action scenes, and I cringed every time it appeared. From Tris starting fights, to the simulations, and every time there was a gun fight, this effect would be used every time. It was ridiculously over the top and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

While Shailene does her best to convey the tortured, selfless soul that Tris (Shailene Woodley) was, I just wasn’t a fan of her character here. Tris is suffering from guilt from the death of her parents and her friend Will, which permeates through the entire movie. She’s full of angst, self hate and constantly makes impulsive and rash decisions that don’t make any sense at all.

In the book, we’re lead through her thought processes, but onscreen they just looked like stupid decisions driven by no logic. These include:

  1. Starting a knife fight with her frenemy Peter, when they’re meant to be undercover
  2. Starting a fight with a train full of factionless, versus Four, herself and the weak and puny Caleb
  3. Going back into the lab, which she just escaped, to steal a mysterious box (A WEIRD ADDITION)
  4. Standing there staring at the box instead of escaping, while the Erudite are bursting in

Compared to the first movie, Insurgent was a physically demanding role for Shailene, who heavy-hands her way through fights with her Dauntless training. We love Tris for her strength of her character, her intelligence, her heart and steely resolve, but here her brawn was emphasised a bit too much. Given Shailene’s small and skinny form, it was kind of hard to believe as she takes down multiple enemies with a sleight of her hand.


You all know how much I love Theo James, but he wasn’t given much of a chance here to demonstrate his character. His role pretty much consisted of his signature puppy dog look and intense stare. As much as I admired his jawline and physique, he played the stereotypical white knight in this one, stepping in at the last moment to save Tris every single time. I missed his leadership and cockiness from the first movie.

I was stunned with his mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts) though, who actually manages to look younger than her on-screen son. I completely struggled with this relationship dynamic because of how young and flawless she looked, especially next to Four.

It wasn’t all bad though, as the Insurgent movie really opened up the rest of the world, by showing us what the headquarters of Amity, Candor and the factionless looked like. I liked seeing the technology, the experiments and the truth serum at the Candor headquarters; it’s the scientific parts which sets it apart from other dystopians.


Compared to the first movie, Insurgent really ramps up the action sequences, the CG simulations and the matrix effects, giving it a cheesy feel overall. Despite the big name actresses in there, Shailene Woodley was the only one that had depth of character, and even she constantly made silly, annoying decisions that defy logic. The movie is all over the place, with a looser plot than the first one, but we did get to see a lot of the other factions and the equipment.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it though, as the visuals were done really well and the concept was executed brilliantly on screen.

Verdict: Leave your brain at the door.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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78 responses to “Insurgent Movie Review: Cheesy and Illogical

  1. I think the best thing about this movie is the ending. Although the ending might have been written as a cliffhanger of sorts, it actually gives a lot of closure to the audience.

  2. danielleisbusyreading

    I haven't read the last two books in this series, so I have no idea what to expect really with this movie. I was just hoping for some Theo James eye candy TBH lol. I really like Shailene as an actress too. Too bad the movie doesn't give either actor much to work with. :/

  3. Shannelle C.

    I watched Divergent just recently, and I would summarize it as high school on crack gone rogue. Most especially the Dauntless. If that's my thoughts for a book I decent;y enjoyed, how am I going to feel about Insurgent, which I absolutely disliked? I know they changed the plot, but couldn't they have changed the parts where she's recklessly stupid?

    I rest my case for now. I'll be watching it tomorrow, and I'll make my judgment then.
    My recent post Book Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale

    • That's a great summary hehe! Definitely with Dauntless, especially when they were jumping around hollering lol. Hmmm, I don't know, if you didn't really enjoy the book, the movie is quite different with lots of big changes, but she's still recklessly stupid.

  4. I felt like Divergent was a film which had its good moments and bad. Of course I will be seeing this one as well, because I am a fan of the books. It's just a shame that it has not really done itself too much good. I don't mind about Shailene's form though, because in the books Tris is always petite and not as strong but cunning mind wise in ways others aren't. But I feel like the cheesy slow mo scenes will nag at me too much.
    My recent post Fantasy Favourites Read-a-thon: Play Me That Music!

    • I liked the grittiness in Divergent, but in here they didn't really capture that aspect. Yeah, she does stick pretty close to Tris, although the action in here was so over the top it seemed unrealistic.

  5. thesepaperhearts

    I went with my sister to see this on Saturday and didn't really enjoy it. We were both kinda bored throughout the movie. I definitely missed Theo's cockiness from the first movie! Jess and I haven't read the books so we were confused by the decisions that Tris made. We laughed at the scene at the picnic table where she fights with Peter. It was like, what on earth was that?!?! lol
    My recent post Follower Appreciation Giveaway (300)

    • That's such a shame isn't it Steph? I took my bf and he was exactly the same, he's like WHYYY IS SHE DOING THAT particularly that same picnic table scene! Especially since they're meant to be undercover!

  6. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I'm 100% sure that I'll be waiting until the DVD comes out… The initial reviews I've seen aren't really convincing, plus my co-blogger saw it yesterday and doesn't even want to tell me how she felt. So yeah… probably won't waste my time.

    Stupid trailer. I still don't get the weird box thing or the matrix-y scenes from it… GAH.
    My recent post Review: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

    • Yeah, I wouldn\’t have missed out if I waited on DVD as well. Yeah, I was like I swear I didn\’t remember that box in there…

  7. Faye M.

    Yeah, I didn't really expect anything else from this movie… it's such an action-packed story that I was afraid it would be full of CGI effects, and it looks like I was right. Nowadays, awesome graphics are cool, but I wish they toned down the matrix-style of slow motion because that kind of thing does tend to look incredibly cheesy. Sad that there's not much Theo James, too. I know how much you guys loved him! LOL!
    My recent post ARC Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

    • I know, I wish I took more warning from the trailer but I guess I was too excited! Yeah, I hate the whole fake and cheesy matrix CGI feel *shudders*. Oh man, even Theo couldn\’t save the movie this time!

  8. Romi

    Sorry this was such a disappointment, Jeann! One of the reasons I disliked Insurgent the book so much was because of Tris’s actions and the way she rushed in and did things thoughtlessly, and even though we had that thought process, I still found it incredibly annoying and ended up disliking her for what she became in that book, and knowing it’s in the film… well that’s frustrating, too. But oh well. I suppose that is her character. I’m sad that Four’s character is the white knight, as you say, because for me this series was kind of one of those books where the female characters, particularly Tris, can take care of themselves, and yet it seems to be saying that actually, no they can’t. Here’s hoping the next two movies are much better for you! Xx

    My recent post A Feature of Pictures (and books!) No. 9

    • Yeah, her doing things thoughtlessly was carried through here, and it just made it so frustrating because they just didn't make sense. I did like Four but his character seemed to change dramatically here. Thanks Romi!

  9. Okay, I must say I pretty much enjoyed the movie and I wasn't exactly a fan of this book in the series.
    However I must agree with you. There were too many unbelievable Matrix kind of scenes, Theo basically did nothing but look at Tris with puppy eyes, like "tell me whatever you want me to do and I'll just do it, no questions asked", and that box? Where did it even come from? :/
    And I don't exactly support the decision of dividing the 3rd book into two movies, so I guess we'll see..
    I liked the first one more though, that was pretty incredible!
    My recent post The Frannie Telegraph #3 (March 22nd, 2015)

    • Oh I know, I wish Four had more of a role here, especially with his mum around. But he kind of faded into the background, and the box was so weird. I did like the first one too, Frannie!

    • Hahha yeah, I actually liked the book back when I read it, but I just don't think it translated well in the movie.

  10. Sometimes adaptations are just weird (I really don't understand why they ADD things? Leaving things out, fine, time constraints. But adding things?!)

    I learned my lesson long ago to just treat them as completely different stories (though this hasn't helped me at all with The Hobbit lol) I must admit these movies look a bit ridiculous, and not at all something I'd want to see (and I love silly action movies), but I really DO want to read the books. I think I'm the only person on the planet who hasn't at this point 😛

    I'm glad you were able to enjoy it, even if it was a little silly!
    My recent post Wattle’s Wonderings #2

    • I know, I just don't know why they added that random box, other than just to show off some cool special effects. I dunno, some people may like it, but it wasn't for me. That probably saves you from disappointment too, Wattle! Although that's the mindset I take with The Walking Dead.

  11. That really does suck that it wasn't a great movie, Jeann. I had major issues with the first movie, so I had decided I wouldn't watch this one and I'm glad I made that decision. I'm not a big fan of Shailene Woodley and I would find it unbeliveable that she was able to beat up these other people too. I'm sorry this wasn't the best.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    My recent post Nick's Random Gibberish (16) : Taylor Swift Tag

  12. Marianne Curley

    Interesting take, though I haven't seen the movie yet, I think I will probably agree. Sounds as if the director's vision was to make another Hollywood action flick, unfortunately sacrificing the essence of our main character.

  13. What a shame, but I wasn't expecting anything after Divergent – which wasn't the worst movie ever, but also not very good. I just don't like the cast and it looks like they had no idea which direction they wanted to go with the movie.

    • I know, I wish they left Divergent as it is! Because I know how it gets towards Allegiant, which is a shame.

  14. Braine-Talk Supe

    And I will wait for the DVD to come out. I read Insurgent a long time ago and I don't remember MUch of the details. I do know that this is where Tris turns into a bad ass & Four faded into the background a bit. I didn't read Allegiant because lots of fans didn't like the ending. I will wait instead for the movie.

    Happy weekend!
    My recent post Shelley Liked It: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

    • Fair enough Braine, yeah, I didn't remember much of the details but there was so much added in that I thought I was hallucinating lol.

  15. I actually really didn't like the Divergent movie, but now I'm pretty excited because I know I'll get a good laugh out of this one. I never watched the trailer, but that GIF looks horrid. And so do all the stills I've seen so far. Also, not a Theo James fan (I don't get his appeal–don't hit me!), so I'm pretty sure I'm going to hate his character here.

    I haven't even watched it yet and it looks so fake already. .-.
    My recent post Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

    • LOL Aimee I love your positive way of thinking! Theo James is totally in the background in this one, I mean I am a big fan but even he didn't save the movie for me. The fakeness is cringey.

  16. Yikess, I don't like slow motion action in movies – it looks so cheesy. I'm not sure if I even liked the cover of the movie either lol I think you nailed it with your review <3 I'm a bit sad it's disappointing because I loved the first movie, it's what made me read the series.. Fantastic post Jeann.
    My recent post Across The Universe ♥ Beth Revis Review

    • Neither do I Benish, especially when it's over-emphasised a bit too much. Definitely cheesy! Thanks so much!

  17. Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

    Well, I did think Four's character wasn't great in the book either. I mean, yes… but not the relationship between him and Tris. I'm pretty curious to see this, because I GOT CHILLS watching the trailer and I watched it something like 10 times. ahha I'm probably going to see this one soon 😀 Sorry you didn't enjoy it that much ://
    My recent post Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

    • Yeah, I only pretty much liked him in the first book. He was pretty much like Tris, do whatever you want and I'll support you. Haha I think you'll enjoy it if you liked the Trailer!

  18. thebigfatf

    Oh man, I was scared of this.
    Aw, I hate how Theo is now just eye candy, just standing there for the sake of it and to save Tris at the last minute. From the trailer, I knew something was going wrong. *sigh* I'm getting sick of book-movie adaptions. I miss original films. With all the CGI and over-processed effects of this film, everything would seem so unrealistic.

    • I know, I wish Theo had a better role because he was better than that! *sighs* I do miss original films before the CGI too.

    • Yeah, but when I think about the book there wasn't really much for them to work with either because it was quite confusing. Thanks Genie!

  19. Divergent surprised me with how well it was adapted, so I'm not so keen to see that turn into a cheesy CGI sequence at all. I feel like the books go downhill one by one and was hoping that the movies would redeem them. I haven't seen it yet because I'm not a fan of the 3D so maybe I'll drag someone along to watch the 2D with me 😛 Thanks for your honest review Jeann xx

    • I know, I actually really liked the Divergent movie and watched it twice in the cinemas, so I was definitely disappointed at this one. Knowing what's coming next, I don't know if I want to see the other few movies in the cinema! I watched the 2D too hehe 😉

    • Awww, so sorry about that Bee! Yeah, my bf was the same, he loved the first movie, hadn't read the books but was turned off at this one lol.

  20. Zoe

    *sighs* This sounds like it was a bit of a disappointment Jeann. 🙁 (Although, to make you feel better, I doubt any book-to-movie adaption could be worse than the Percy Jackson series…) It sounds like the movie was definitely more senseless action than it was substance, which is a shame because too much action definitely ruins the movie. And it stinks that the character's decisions appear so irrational and senseless. Oh well, I think I'm still going to see this, but I'll remember to leave my brain at the door. 😉
    My recent post Extraction Review Swap

    • I know, I was definitely disappointed, although I still found it entertaining but not in the way I would have imagined lol. LOL ZOE 😀

    • That's probably the best way Bec, that way you can adjust the expectations. Yeah, when I think about it, Insurgent was always going to be a hard one to portray on screen.

  21. I still haven't seen the first movie /oops, haha!

    Well at least if I know going in the movie is going to be super cheesy, I can mental prepare myself lol Movies trying too hard always ends up extra cheesy. Happy to hear it isn't all bad!

    Thanks for the review, Jeann! (Also, I can't stop watching that .gif. It's hilariously mesmerizing.)
    My recent post Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

    • Hahah, yeah, I would have probably still watched it but adjusted my expectations I guess. Gosh, I don't even know if it was meant to be cheesy!

  22. Oh man I don't think I could leave my brain sorry Jeann. But I haven't even read the series, which is why I'm not so interested in watching Insurgent. I did watch Divergent though, surprisingly. Honestly I don't think Shailene Woodley is a good cast for Tris, but what can I say haha.
    My recent post Review: Sleepaway Girls

    • Hahaha fair enough Val! I guess if you haven't read the series, you'd have even less incentive to watch this one.

  23. LilysBookBlog

    I was not a fan of the Divergent adaption so i declared months ago i was not watching this sequel, i just knew it oculd only get worse. IMagine my surprise though when i saw the first trailer and visibly cringed at all that had been changed. Gone was the original story, and in its place was a messy CGI project. Great review Jeann.
    My recent post The Last Time We Say Goodbye: Review

    • Fair enough, it definitely is going to get worse and it's kind of frustrating the last movie is getting split into 2. How frustrating!

  24. alexia561

    Really enjoyed your honest review! Haven't read the books but thought about going to see the movie. Think I'll wait until they're on cable, as I hate having to pay for mindless fluff!
    My recent post Spring Bloggiesta 2015

  25. I plan to read this series next month aaaaaand, I'm pretty frightened of not liking it, and that sucks, a lot, but, I will be watching the films afterwards, like I've done with The Hunger Games, just to get that feel, so who knows, I might feel differently, but if it's all slow-mo and love everywhere, it might not be for me.
    My recent post Film Review – Mockingjay: Part 1

    • Wow Amanda, you haven't read the series yet? I hope you haven't been spoiled, although it's near impossible not to be.

    • Hahah I know, gosh the trailer should have clued me in lol! I guess I just let the excitement take over. Lol keen to hear your thoughts if you do watch it.

  26. So I wasn't alone huh? I was blaming my decision to re-read the book before watching the movie. That it was the reason I didn't like this one but no, huhu I wanted to like it but still no. I was willing to let my dissatisfaction go for Theo James but that too fell short. It seemed like the Four from Divergent was suddenly gone. And yes, Tris' stupid decisions. Dammit. I was like "WTH happened?"

    Yes the CG and effects were enjoyable if you are a fan of such things but unfortunately I'm not lol. I actually liked Peter here more, for me he owned this movie.
    My recent post Review: Wide Awake by Shelly Crane

    • Noope, definitely not alone Ella! It's been ages since I've read the book but even I couldn't remember some of those weird parts they added in the movie, like the box. Yeah, in the books Four was like that too, and deteriorated towards the last book. Peter definitely was a big part of the movie!

  27. God, I don't think I'm spoilery at all BUT LIKE I DON'T WANT TO RUIN ANYONE'S EXPERIENCE, JUST IN CASE SO PLEASE LOOK AWAY IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED. I'm so nice and all, with my warnings BUAHAHAHA

    I'm with you LOL How gorgeous did Naomi Watts look? I'm so used to her blonde but man, does she look fab as a brunette! I vote for the hair. But yeah, I digress. She looked so put together and just so…"pretty" to be the leader of the faction less, you know?? And the bits that were hallucinations and the bits that weren't were so hard to differentiate from. Like my friend and I seriously thought the attacking peter with a knife thing was her imagination, a la mean girls. But alas, it was justtt the movie getting too creative. AND WHY THEY GOOTTA DO THAT BOX THING HUH??? What's allegiant gonna do know, huh? And that ending LOL puhlease, they can't ALL go hahahaha Fabulous review, Jeann!
    My recent post Seeking Saturday's Read #26: Technological Catastrophes, the Declaration of &quot;Once A Fortnight&quot; and Getting Re-Inspired

    • You are so nice with your warnings Jess! I know, I didn't even know it was Naomi Watts until I looked up the actresses for this review! She looked so beautiful and YOUNG. I just couldn't believe it. Hahaha oh god, the BOX. THE BOX WAS HORRIBLE. WHYYYYY? Some of those scenes were just so laughable. My bf and I were laughing and nudging each other whenever they happened.

  28. karawrites15

    Hah. Oh dear. That is a shame. From memory I enjoyed the first movie, but this hasn't been the only negative film review of Insurgent I've seen, so now, at least I know to lower my expectations. Honestly, I wasn't much a fan of the book, either (the only one I can really say that I liked was Insurgent), which is a shame because both film and books showed such a potential. I know I'll still go see this sometime, and maybe now that I've lowered my expectations I'll like it more. Great review!
    My recent post Book review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

    • I think if I had lower expectations I might have liked it more…maybe. Insurgent was always going to be a messy one on film.