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Review: The Divergent Series: Allegiant

The Divergent Series: Allegiant
03.16.2016
6 10

PLOT: Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), her lover Four (Theo James) and other refugees from Chicago discover the faction system is a lie engineered by survivors outside the city, led by the duplicitous David (Jeff Daniels) as an experiment to discover whether or not genetically damaged people can be redeemed. Now living in a protected enclave at the former O’Hare airport, Tris uses her new status as one of the few “pure” survivors to engineer a change in the policy, all the while Chicago is on the cusp of a Civil War between the survivors of the factions and the faction-less.

REVIEW: The DIVERGENT series is an interesting case as far as YA adaptations go. Neither as popular as the giants, like HARRY POTTER, TWILLIGHT (ugh) and THE HUNGER GAMES, nor a disaster like THE 5TH WAVE or THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS, DIVERGENT occupies a middle rung it shares with THE MAZE RUNNER. The movies do well-enough among their target audience, but they’ve never really broken out, and the series is generally winding itself up. Despite the middling popularity of the first two, somewhere along the line the decision was made to split the last volume in the book series, Allegiant, into two films as with most other YA franchises. Financially, it always made sense but the result was often two mediocre movies instead of one good one, or in the case of BREAKING DAWN, simply two awful ones.

Surprisingly, ALLEGIANT handles this format better than most, likely due to the fact that both installments were not shot at the same time. Being treated as two separate movies (with two different directors), ALLEGIANT fares better than the recent MOCKINGJAY PART 1 & 2 in that it feels like it tells a complete story with a beginning, a middle and an end, although it remains to be seen how the last one, ASCENDANT, will work out.

If you haven’t seen the other DIVERGENT movies, clearly this isn’t for you. Jumping right back in after the second film, which saw Naomi Watts’s Evelyn execute Kate Winslet’s Jeanine, within moments Tris, Four and most of the good-looking survivors of the other films (Zoe Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, and a bored Miles Teller) stumble around a low-budget looking post-apocalyptic version of the future, before being taken in by the Bureau of Genetic Warfare, who explains the earth almost ended due to a genetic war that sounds a lot like Khan from Star Trek’s backstory.

From there, ALLEGIANT is pretty standard stuff, although like the other films I’m surprised at how much gunplay it contains, with Four racking up an impressive body count as he tries to discover what David is up to. Like the first half of MOCKINGJAY, it’s a drag Shailene Woodley’s Tris is off-screen so much, with the idea being that she’s temporarily fooled by David, who the more cynical Four can see through. Thus, Woodley takes a backseat for much of the movie, making this more Theo James’s movie. In a way, that’s not such a bad thing as him and Woodley always made a slightly awkward couple, maybe due to the obvious age difference between the two, with James having always seemed much too old for the part.

Physically, James is impressive here with some decent hand-to-hand scraps, although again, the gooey romantic interludes with Woodley come-off as half-baked and tacked on. Woodley is a wonderful actress, but she’s never been totally convincing in action heroine mode, although as she gets a bit older between the films she’s slightly easier to accept as the gun-toting Tris and whatever the case you can’t help but root for her as she’s so personable.

Like in the other films, a pricey supporting cast has been assembled although no one’s given too much to do. Watts is the most prominent, but her back-and-forth transition between heroine and villainess is never convincing, mostly due to how half-baked a character she’s playing. Meanwhile, her nemesis, Octavia Spencer, hardly gets any screen time at all. New addition Jeff Daniels convincingly plays smug, but it’s a stretch to believe ingenious heroine Tris isn’t able to immediately see though him. Younger stars, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller and Zoe Kravitz all have to make due with limited roles this time around, although Teller tries hard to milk his part for comic relief. Again though, it’s a stretch to believe the battle-hardened heroes would ever trust him after he repeatedly betrayed them over the course of the last few movies.

ALLEGIANT is definitely only worth watching for fans of the franchise but on the whole it’s a relatively painless saga to take in. Director Robert Schwentke wisely keeps the running time at less than two hours (without credits it runs about 110 minutes) with THE RAID 2’s Joseph Trapanese returning from INSURGENT to contribute a propulsive score. ALLEGIANT isn’t good enough to change anyone’s mind about the series, nor is it strong enough to win new fans. But, as far as these endless YA franchises go it’s not bad.

Source: JoBlo.com

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