Dan's Review: "Allegiant" kind of blends in
Shailene Woodley and Theo James in The Divergent Series: Allegiant - © Summit/Lionsgate
The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Summit/Lionsgate)
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity.
Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Jeff Daniels, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Maggie Q, Bill Skarsgård, Keiynan Lonsdale, Nadia Hilker, Ray Stevenson, Daniel Dae Kim, Mekhi Phifer, Xander Berkeley.
Written by Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Stephen Chbosky, based on the novel by Veronica Roth.
Directed by Robert Schwentke.
If you’re like me, perhaps you are experiencing a little cinematic “teen dystopia” fatigue. Ever since Hollywood discovered the goldmine of young adult literature, we’ve been inundated with several “series,” all of which seem blended together at this point. I seriously can’t tell the difference between Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and Divergent series at this point. Perhaps this trend may soon go away. Several other YA novel series adaptations have failed to take off (The Host, Cirque Du Freak, Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, Ender’s Game, The Giver, etc.) and maybe that’s a good thing. Stay tuned, because there’s a fourth film (Ascendant) coming to wrap up the series in 2017, since the Summit/Lionsgate studios couldn’t resist the urge to split Veronica Roth’s Allegiant novel into two films (see: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, etc.).
Since I really don’t remember much about the first two Divergent films, suffice to say the story picks up sometime after the totalitarian government that ruled over a desolate Chicago has been toppled, and Tris (Shailene Woodley) has cracked open a mysterious box that contained a special message meant for her. The message informs Chicagoland that they have all been part of an experiment and that there’s life beyond the great wall that surrounds the city. With all the chaos surrounding the demise of the totalitarians, there’s some reckoning for those who ruled with ruthlessness. Evelyn (Naomi Watts) is one of the de facto leaders left to mete out justice for on the former regime, and conducts kangaroo courts in which angry mobs rule, much like a Donald Trump rally (heh). Evelyn’s son Four (Theo James) is torn between loyalty to his mother and the love of his life Tris. He decides to help Tris and other former “Dauntless” faction members (the factions were supposedly eliminated with the regime change, but not really) rescue Caleb (Ansel Elgort), who was part of the old totalitarian regime. The group scales the wall in search of the folks who left the message in the box, as Evelyn’s henchmen pursue.
When they get outside the wall, Tris and her gang encounters a desolate, post-atomic scene. They are soon rescued by a militarized organization called “The Bureau of Genetic Welfare” (sounds suspicious, doesn’t it?), led by the smooth father figure David (Jeff Daniels). David informs Tris that his group has been conducting the “faction” experiment in Chicago to genetically engineer the perfect genetic human, who turned out to be her. Tris is willing to help David use her DNA to make a more “pure” human race, but soon discovers that all the human test subjects in and around Chicago are expendable. She and Four must return to Chicago to try and save the city from David’s wrath.
Allegiant is on par with other films in the series in terms of visual elements, casting and story, but that’s not saying much. As I mentioned earlier in this review, it all blends together, and I really don’t have much interest in the final outcome (whatever that is). Shailene Woodley seems a little to “cute” to be playing the tough heroine/leader, while she doesn’t share much chemistry with Theo James (Oddly enough, she had plenty of chemistry with co-stars Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller in other film projects).
Driven by special effects and a dreamy leading man, I’m sure Allegiant will suffice to keep young fans involved in the saga to its conclusion, but not by very much.
As for me, wake me for the next Apocalypse.
I’m kind of done with this one.