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'Insurgent': Post-aschlockalypse

The ‘Divergent’ series goes from not bad to much worse in ‘Insurgent’ wherein Shailene Woodley battles the same post-apocalyptic dictatorship, but with a new haircut

PERHAPS you've begun to suffer post-apocalypse fatigue.

Signs include ringing in ears, caused by IMAX speakers, and an inability to remember which Oscar-winning female runs which dystopian society.

You see folks standing in the rubble of civilization's ruin, and try to remember who's in charge - Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep?

And parents wonder: If you're staggering with your morbid middle schooler from "The Hunger Games" to "Divergent" to "The Maze Runner" to "The Giver," isn't the apocalypse already here?

Also already here: Part two of the "Divergent" series, based on the Veronica Roth books about a world in which folks are separated by personality type into rigidly controlled factions.

Teen rebel Tris (Shailene Woodley) doesn't fit the profiles, neither does her hunky boyfriend Four (Theo James), so she and other "divergent" types plot against the unpleasant woman (Winslet) who keeps everyone in line.

In the sequel, "Insurgent," Tris and Four and a retinue of divergent outcasts are hiding in the countryside among the faction of folks said to be peaceful, although their clothes suggest they are waging war on fashion.

Tris is unsettled. She's on the run from security forces, plagued by possible defectors, she's just started to realize her boyfriend's name is stupid, and she can't do a thing with her hair.

So she cuts it Joan of Arc short before returning to crumbled Chicago to take another crack at Winslet's ruthless dictator, whom everyone refers to simply as Jeanine.

After a shaky start with "Divergent," the series could have gotten better or it could have become goofy, and it's gone in the direction of the latter.

The series needs a stylist to give the YA fantasy some gravity, but director Robert Schwentke isn't the man. The world he builds is never believable, the sets and digital backdrops are obviously phony, making the rather creaky and derivative mythos cooked up by Roth look ever more silly.

In "Insurgent," for instance, the divergent rebels learn of a potential ally - a leader named Evelyn (Naomi Watts), who obviously means to seize power from Jeanine. The story takes shape as uniquely matriarchal sci-fi, and that seems potentially interesting.

Until the two women meet, and exchange Mean Girl sneers.

"Hello Evelyn."

"Hello Jeanine."

You're left with the impression that Chicago was destroyed by an argument these two gals had back in high school.

Meanwhile, Tris is clubbed and shot and battered by a virtual reality machine, a trial she must survive to lead the tattered remnants of civilization to a better place.

It's dirty, sweaty work.

One awaits the final installment to "Divergent" and "Insurgent" - "Detergent."