Allegiant March 20, 2016
Whereas the Divergent series began tolerably and inoffensively, the films released under its name have only gotten increasingly monotonous as time has gone on. Its first part, released in 2014, was a guilty pleasure, a YA popcorn film with the entertainment factor of a particularly good SyFy channel TV movie. Fit with a more conclusive ending, it might have worked as a standalone, would-be franchise starter of decent merit. But after being dragged to last year’s sequel, Insurgent, it became apparent that the Divergent set is the kind that only worsens as the years pass by. Without the strong source material necessary to keep a series tight and investing, mounting complexities are the enemy, not the compelling hero.
So I can confidently conclude that each film of the franchise is worse than the last: I expect next year’s Ascendent to be aggressively bad, but you never know — Insurgent was terrible and misguided, but Allegiant takes the higher road, instead being pretty, bland, boring, and confusing.
Allegiant still stars the beautiful Shailene Woodley and the beautiful Theo James as Tris and Four, a beautiful couple leading a revolution of beautiful people against a beautifully headed totalitarian government that wants to oppress them. As I’m sure plenty plot synopses dwell the pages of IMDB and Wikipedia as I type, I won’t bother to go back and thoroughly explain the inner workings of the Divergent series’ ongoing plot. It’s far too convoluted for that, and I’m sure you won’t have much of an idea of what’s going on in Allegiant anyway. All I can say is that it’s about at the same point the third The Hunger Games film, Mockingjay: Part 1, was — its heroes are close to overthrowing the baddies at the front of an almightily powerful government, but not quite.
Without charisma or a comprehensible storyline, though, there’s not much of a reason to bother caring about anything Allegiant has to offer us. Motivations of several (or most) of its characters are eye-rollingly unclear. The performances range from flavorless to sleepy. The action sequences are noisy, redundant, and without a single thrill. Tris Prior, once a feisty heroine, has been bogged down to being a face and body that can undergo plenty of fancy stunts. Kate Winslet, once the franchise’s villain, is replaced by Jeff Daniels (and maybe Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts — it’s not very clear what side of the battle each is fighting for), who is hardly the malevolent ice queen she was (though what a twist that would be). We’re told that the characters are struggling in a post-apocalyptic society that doesn’t care about them, but their beach fresh tans, designer clothes, and perfect hair and makeup suggests otherwise.
Everything looks dazzling in Allegiant — unless you’re immune to copious amounts of CGI — but missing is a heart, a purpose, and a personality. It’s a video game with the style but not the substance, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to spend your time with entertainment clearly slapped together for money. And anyway, it’s 12:44 am, I’m determined to turn this review in before the morning really begins, and I’m tired. Though I’m 532 words in and have done plenty to make my opinions clear, I’ll make a long story short and close my review off with some food for thought: why see Allegiant when you could be outside, enjoying the first day of spring? Maybe the sun isn’t out where you are, but I’m positive being pelted with rain and cold is more fun than spending $7.50 (assuming you’re fond of the matinee) on a movie that likes your hard-earned cash more than it likes you.
Or, you could see Zootopia and be in the greatest mood of your life for the rest of the week. It’s your call. C-