Tweetable Takeaway: #Allegiant’s dull characters make for a boring addition to the #Divergent series. Tweet
They say that death and taxes are the two certainties in life, but I’d like to add a third: Splitting the last book of a young adult film franchise into two movies. What’s worse, the only winners in such a situation are the studios, who know the franchise’s built-in fanbase will pony up to see both Part 1 and Part 2 of whatever series is playing out. There is rarely a Part 1 that doesn’t feel like it’s plodding and stalling until it can get to the action in Part 2. It’s barely tolerable when the franchise churns out enjoyable films, but it’s downright torture when the series is awful to begin with (I’m looking at you, sparky vampires). The Divergent Series falls somewhere in the middle. The first film, Divergent, showed plenty of promise that was quickly dashed by its sequel, Insurgent. There was hope early on that this series would fulfill a trilogy and be on its way, but Lionsgate announced in 2014 that, yes, it would be splitting the final installment into two films. And now, in spite of the dull chapter that is ALLEGIANT, we still have one more to go: Ascendant.
At the head of all the young adult strife this time around is Shailene Woodley, who gave vulnerability to her unsure Tris in Divergent after discovering her genes were different than everyone else’s. Instead of neatly falling into one category of personality (always telling the truth, being a muscly jerk, etc.), Tris discovered she had a little bit of every personality. In Insurgent, Tris cut off her hair to signify her growing up and becoming tough, and in the process lost all of what made her interesting to watch. In Allegiant, she’s grown back a little bit of hair and gained some of her softness, but still can’t overcome the generic nature that the films have turned her character into.
In Allegiant, Tris, her hunky boyfriend Four (played by Theo James), whiny brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), cocky as ever Peter (Miles Teller), and Christina (Zoe Kravitz, who has nothing to do in this movie and exists only because she was in the book) successfully climb over the wall enclosing Chicago that’s kept them imprisoned for so many years. They discover a radiation-scorched earth, and blood-red rainstorms. Luckily, they’re soon picked up by a group of people far more technologically advanced than they are. So advanced, in fact, they have little pet drones they can control with a finger and orange floating bubbles that carry Tris and the gang to the pristine white city in the middle of the radiated wasteland. After an uncomfortably long sequence in which Tris must undress and be decontaminated naked (you can almost see the look of incredulity in Shailene Woodley’s face as the sequence goes on and on), the gang arrives for a debriefing. Luckily for both them and the audience, the leader of this city, David (Jeff Daniels) has put together a very handy presentation. The explanation for the cordoned city is a less than exciting revelation, one that’s been seen in plenty of other stories of dystopian futures.
All of this might work if we cared for any of the characters. The movie intercuts what is occurring within the city throughout the movie, but the moviegoer simply couldn’t care less for a single person within the city limits. Tris and Four find themselves in a situation where they must rescue those inside the city, but without an engaging protagonist and a downright unlikable city of people to save, Allegiant really becomes a drag. The only character somewhat engaging is Four. Four is continually active throughout the movie, and asks the same questions the viewers are asking themselves. Tris is mostly passive, and the rest of the characters are either unlikable, downright bad, or just exist in the background.
The worst part of it all? We’re still not done with The Divergent Series. Audiences can make a stand, though. Don’t go see this movie in theaters. In time, we can prevent the unnecessary part-ification of these franchises that is becoming all too commonplace. If this trend continues, someday our grandchildren or great-grandchildren will find themselves in their own dystopia in which young-adult book series are adapted to films, and the last book is not divided into just two parts, but three, four, or eight. They’ll huddle around the fires burning in the abandoned movie theaters and talk about how their descendants began the horrifying path that led them to that point. Okay, maybe that’s being a touch dramatic. But all of that is to say, think about just renting Allegiant instead.
I give The Divergent Series: Allegiant 2 red rainstorms out of 5
Score: 2 out of 5
Wil Loper | Contributor