THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT PART 1

★★

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Kate Smith
11th April 2016

Another year, another teenage dystopian film where a not-so-ordinary girl fights to save the world. The third movie based on Veronica Roth’s ‘Divergent’ series of novels, ‘Allegiant’ continues the story of Tris and Four as they attempt to find the truth of their existence. If you haven’t seen the other two movies recently, you’ll be a mite confused at where this one opens. It dives right in to the story at roughly the same point the last instalment ended, but I’m not going to re-hash the plot here – the trailer gives most of it away anyway.

There are quite a few problems with ‘Allegiant,’ not least of which is that it follows ‘Insurgent’, which was less than satisfying. As mentioned in our review of that film, the series still suffers from complacency and a failure in realism. While YA adaptations like ‘The Hunger Games’ have a relatable emotional depth, ‘Allegiant’ just doesn’t inspire the same involvement. Much of this film feels like obligation – the sense of, “Ah well, we have to finish the thing now, might as well stretch the last book to two movies like everyone else does.” Many of the film’s faults stem from this one cause: that stretching the final novel into two parts to cash in on the fanbase has become not only acceptable but expected. Had The Divergent Series bucked the trend and produced one tightly shot and fast-paced film, I suspect everyone involved would have been much happier...

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...including the cast. As much as they try to hide it, the fatigue displayed by the leads was clearly not just an aspect of their characters. Shailene Woodley and Theo James put in solid performances, as do the supporting members of the cast. Special mention to Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer, who manage to create far more in-depth characters than the script provides them with. The same can’t really be said for Jeff Daniels though it’s no fault of his; he simply had nothing to work with. Lazy scripting let down many characters here. Miles Teller is a decent actor (just don’t mention ‘Fantastic Four’) but here, he’s only annoying. Given the job of making ambiguously motivated Peter into the comic relief, Teller probably would have succeeded had he been left to his own devices. His comic talents are hinted at but drowned out by the dismal lines he’s fed.

It all moves along at much the same pace, and the climax doesn’t exactly live up to its description.

Another large issue is that it’s just a tad boring. It all moves along at much the same pace, and the climax doesn’t exactly live up to its description, being too similar to the final conflict in the other films. Again, had the book been one movie, this problem would probably not have existed. There’s a lot of material to work with in the novels, and unfortunately, the film has focussed on aspects that would have been best ignored in favour of others. As a result, the premise behind the city’s existence and the organisation in control of it is all a little muddled. Like the scripting, the editing is lazy. There are scenes that are either too long, or simply pointless; one in particular involves a long-winded depiction of a decontamination shower. The special effects are interesting but mostly unnecessary, and the score sounds like a budget remix of the soundtrack from ‘Tron: Legacy’.

However, Theo James is gorgeous, some of the action isn't a complete waste, and the technology of the world outside the wall is intriguing. If you liked the other two instalments and can overlook their many shortcomings, it’s not a terrible way to spend an afternoon at the movies. Just try to go on a Tuesday when the tickets are cheaper; but if you're not a fan, don't bother.

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