THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT
Director: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Bill Skarsgård, Maggie Q
At the end of Insurgent, the second film in the Divergent series, our heroine Tris Prior (Woodley) learned that the factions in Chicago were all part of a larger experiment at hand and that there is a larger world outside the wall surrounding the city. Rebellion is erupting within the Erudite headquarters after the takedown of leader Jeanine. Those who were on her side are now on trial to be killed, one of them being Tris’ brother Caleb (Elgort). Her boyfriend Four (James) sneaks Caleb out of his cell in order to save his life. The three of them along with friends Peter (Teller) and Christina (Kravitz) successfully make their way up and over the wall.
At first sight it appears to be a barren wasteland until they run into a portal that opens up to a group of armed guards. The group is flown away to a whole new area which houses the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. Tris learns from David (Daniels), the director of the Bureau, that she is “the one.” She is genetically pure as opposed to all of the other divergents who are considered damaged. According to David, only the pure ones have the abilities to fix the damage caused by the experiments in the cities. Tension starts to build between our two lovers when Four begins to question the Bureau and everything David is telling Tris. Back in Chicago, war continues to rage on between the factions.
If you’ve been able to keep track thus far, you’ll know that this is based on the third and final book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Like many YA (young adult books) conclusions that have come before, it is being split into two movies. It would be advisable to re-watch or re-read the first two just to get your mind back to where we are at with the story. There is a very brief recap at the beginning if you don’t have time. At the same time, this movie does a decent job of feeling like it has its own plot in conjunction with the larger story at hand. But what is that larger story? By the time we get to the conclusion of the book or the movie series I would expect to have a clear understanding of where the story is going. We knew in The Hunger Games that Katniss was going to overthrow Snow and the Capital. We knew in Harry Potter that he would eventually kill Voldemort once and for all. The first film, Divergent, felt like it was all exposition. Insurgent progressed the story a little bit further along but also killed off Jeanine, who was the main villain at hand. I sat through most of Allegiant in the same state I had during the first two as I was questioning what Tris and Four’s ultimate goals were. Only by the tail end when it becomes clear to Tris does it sink in for the audience. Maybe it says something about me if I’m not “getting” a YA series by this point.
Throughout Allegiant, we are continuing to learn more about the history of how Chicago got to its present state. There are new rules at hand, new truths that come to the forefront, and Tris learns some shocking discoveries about her mom. I appreciate the dimensions that are being added to this story, but it throws a bit of a wrench into everything we’ve come to expect so far. I haven’t read the final book, so I am curious as to how much screenwriters Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, and Bill Collage fleshed out in order to make it worth two movies. They are all new to this series with each film having different writers. While the first two had a more realistic feel due to the dystopian Chicago, the third movie takes more of a sci-fi/fantasy approach when we go “beyond the wall”. There are space pods, drones, and holograms that are all a stark contrast to what’s currently happening within the city. We’re getting more and more CGI heavy as the series continues, and the results are a bit lackluster with some very obvious green screen work.
There is some return in the creative end with director Robert Schwentke back after helming Insurgent. I wish he would have been able to get some stronger performances out of his cast. That could also be blamed on the source material. One would think that throughout the course of three movies we would see some growth, but instead, the characters remain fairly generic. We’ve seen better performances from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort before in The Fault in Our Stars. Miles Teller is a full on bratty jerk in this one. Even Jeff Daniels and Naomi Watts feel a bit lost. If I were to be so blunt, Kate Winslet’s Jeanine and Jai Courtney’s Eric were the franchise’s best characters, and they both met their fate in Insurgent. You will also notice some BAD acting by minor supporting actors and the extras.
This isn’t the worst YA series out there. I’m looking at you, The 5th Wave. We should have an exciting conclusion on screen, but The Divergent Series: Allegiant proves that this series is not all that memorable. Maybe it’s the plethora of films we are seeing from this genre that all start to feel the same way after a while. There is nothing new with the idea of a government led conspiracy with a love story at its core. At least it’s not a love triangle. This film has a decent ending that finally sets the stage of what Tris, Four, and the rest of their crew will be working towards. The next film, The Divergent Series: Ascendant, has its work cut out for itself if it’s going to try to amend the faults at hand with the series.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? This series is losing steam.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS