Friday, March 18, 2016

Movie Review: “The Divergent Series: Allegiant”

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

** out of 5
121 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity
Summit Entertainment

Article first published at

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Divergent film, but I did like the second installment of Insurgent. It managed to have better special effects and built upon the world it established. While Veronica Roth never won me over with her franchise — and I had zero desire to check out the books — imagine my dismay walking out of the “third” installment proclaiming it the worst of the series.

Allegiant has more issues than just being part one of a two-part film. At least Allegiant manages to feel like a complete film — something The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 never managed to do. However, it’s all the good that can be said of Allegiant as returning director Robert Schwentke — and his hodgepodge of writers (Noah Oppenheimer, along with the team Adam Cooper and Bill Collage) — delivers one of the most dunderheaded young adult film entries yet.

Kicking off where Insurgent left off, our intrepid heroes — Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo “Not James Franco” James), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), and Tori (Maggie Q) — are dealing with the death of Jeanine while a new Chicago tries to figure out how to handle itself as Four’s mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts) takes over. The wall surrounding the city has been revealed to be nothing more than a facade, with the city itself an experiment conducted by the Bureau of Genetic Welfare run by its director David (Jeff Daniels). Eventually, Tris, Four, Christina, Tris’s brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), and Peter (Miles Teller) make a break to see what’s beyond the wall. And of course they wind up in a fight for their lives against new threats and a burgeoning war with David wanting to reinstall the disbanded factions.

Everything about Allegiant is amateur — and that’s the best thing I can say about it. Filled with horrible performances, a disastrous script, and C-grade direction, there is nothing here to win over audience members who were on the fence and may cause fans to jump off the bandwagon. This is the kind of action movie that relies on slo-mo jeep jumps, villains who utter “uh oh” before getting blasted away, characters floating around in giant plasma jelly beans, heroes exclaiming “gadzooks,” and co-pilots jumping into the middle of a mid-air fight after the other pilot is taken out in a gunfight causing the plane to crash. Common sense is thrown out the window as it bounces from one melodramatic plot twist to the next.

Daniels gives one of the creepiest performances of the year as he explains that he’s watched Tris literally since birth and how excited he is that she made it to him so they can try to replicate her perfect jeans, err, genes. See, the rest of Chicago is “damaged” except for Tris, and now, David can use her DNA to create more perfect people. If any of this sounds disorderly, you’ve probably read the book. Having skimmed through the Wikipedia page, there have been some major changes. Good luck with this one fans, you’re just about the only ones who can give a glimmer of hope for a quality finale.

As for Schwentke & Co., the rest of us are out of luck. If history repeats itself — fingers crossed — this will make even less money than Insurgent (which made less than the original) and the final film — Ascendent — can finally put the whole series out to pasture where it belongs. Our only hope lies in the hands of new director Lee Toland Krieger with Schwentke dropping out to take a “breather” after shooting Insurgent and Allegiant back-to-back. There’s no doubt it was actually due to him dropping such a turd in Summit Entertainment’s lap. Maybe we will be the ones who can take a deep breath of relief if Krieger manages to send the finale out with a bang instead of a whimper. Fingers crossed, but don’t hold your breath.

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