Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
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The Divergent Series Allegiant is out in the UK, and ComiConverse Film Critic Jordan Samuel has our official review.
Divergent was a mildly successful young adult book set in a dystopian future Chicago. The books focus on a society that defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation within five different factions.
These books were heavily influenced by the Hunger Games series, and, like that series, contain adult overtones of acceptance and unity. In early 2011, Divergent author, Veronica Roth sold the film rights to The Divergent Series to Summit Entertainment – and we got the first movie in the franchise, Divergent.
Released to mixed reception amidst heavy comparison to other popular franchises, the series has never recovered from that criticism, despite descent box office takes. During the last installment, director Robert Schwentke threw out many of the YA elements, in favor of Matrix inspired action.
2016 brings with it Allegiant the third film in the series, which sees Schwentke stay on as director.
After the earth-shattering revelations of INSURGENT, Tris must escape with Four and go beyond the wall enclosing Chicago. For the first time ever, they will leave the only city and family they have ever known. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust as a ruthless battle ignites beyond the walls of Chicago which threatens all of humanity. In order to survive, Tris will be forced to make impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love. —IMDB
The Divergent franchise has often left a bad taste in my mouth. There were no teens at my screening of the film, which made me wonder if it was actually connecting to its target demographic. This latest installment in the franchise feels like a cheap adaptation of a mediocre book in an unexceptional series.
Schwentke uses some decent camera work here, and gives the film a feeling of real tension. Allegiant is not a bad looking film. It fails mainly at developing the characters and story, which limits any serious potential. This lack of development weakens the series, especially compared to other YA franchises where the focus lies in personalities colliding.
Sequences directed by Schwentke lack any sense of terror, but that is mostly due to the awful character dynamics. I hope that we see Schwentke make a smaller film next, because he does have talent in creating interesting scenes.
Allegiant focuses on the wall which has been installed to keep the citizens of Chicago contained an to reinforce their belief that they are the only people left in the world. Tris (Shailene Woodley), and her brother, Caleb (played by “The Fault in Our Stars” love interest Ansel Elgort); Four (Theo James); Dauntless ally Christina (Zoe Kravitz); and the consistently unreliable Peter (Miles Teller) travel beyond the wall together.
These characters have all have lived inside the wall, but since learning there is a world beyond, they need to escape and find out what has happened to the rest of society.
Shailene Woodley returns as Tris, and provides some really heartfelt sequences. She is a brilliant actress but for some reason never felt right in the role. She is too shy and lacks the necessary edge to play Tris’ darker side. As a result, Tris ends up being an underdeveloped protagonist who is always is in trouble. Her action scenes work rather well, with Woodley making an enjoyable action heroin.
Theo James is also back, and plays Four, Tris’ love interest. James is getting better at portraying the character – but is occasionally saddled with poor writing. Four is an interestingly dark character, but the laughable romance between himself and Tris limits his independent development. James also provides passable action sequences as Four, but the often borderline ridiculous dialog ruins their impact.
Zoë Kravitz also makes her return as Christina, who is wasted due to some frankly idiotic character development. I did enjoy her presence but the film did not focus on the character, which is shameful after her performance in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Miles Teller’s character is essentially a jerk who none of the others like. Teller fights his way through cringe worthy dialog but limits Teller acting range. Ansel Elgort’s Caleb is the only character who, I thought, improved in this film. I did not mind his character this time.
Unoriginal science fiction guff is not acceptable for 2016, when there are so many high quality science fiction and fantasy films being made. After a disappointing experience with Allegiant, all I can say is, hopefully Batman v Superman will help erase it from my memory. (Look for my review of Batman v. Superman on March 25th)
Jordan Samuel is Film Critic for ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter @JordanESamuel
The Divergent Series Allegiant is the complete definition of unoriginal science fiction guff, DO NOT SEE IT