Review: ‘Divergent: Allegiant’ differs from the book
Let’s be honest. Movie-going audiences seem tired of the slew of young-adult adaptations centered around dystopian universes. Even “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” failed to do as well as the earlier movies in that series.
Unfortunately, “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” won’t reinvigorate fans’ passion for the genre because if movies can jump the shark, “Allegiant” does so for this series with barely a whimper. It’s the weakest of the three movies in the series so far, which is a shame because it really did start out with lots of promise.
Based on the book of the same name by Veronica Roth, “Allegiant” finds Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her boyfriend Four (Theo James) leaving the walled boundaries of Chicago, where citizens have been divided up into factions based on their DNA and personalities. The last movie, “Insurgent” revealed that Chicago was an experiment by the outside world to prove that civilizations could recover and flourish after the unknown tragedies that outside world had endured. Divergents like Tris are the key to society’s survival, not its undoing.
“Allegiant” picks up sometime after the events of “Insurgent,” and Evelyn (Naomi Watts) is now leading the city, forbidding everyone from exploring beyond the wall that protects Chicago from the outside world. With Chicago on the verge of civil war, Tris and her friends, including Christina, Peter and Tori, rescue her brother Caleb from execution and venture outside the wall. They discover a toxic wasteland before being rescued by citizens of the Bureau, which oversees the experiment in Chicago. The bureau’s leader, David (Jeff Daniels), quickly separates Tris from her friends, while Four — always skeptical — uncovers a conspiracy that threatens their home and loved ones.
To be fair, the first half of “Allegiant” starts out strong and introduces a fascinating, new landscape and some intriguing new characters. The story begins to drag soon after, which could be a simple result of the studio’s decision to split the third book into two movies. By the way, “The Divergent Series: Ascendant” releases next summer.
It’s a well known fact among book lovers that fans of this series petitioned the movie studio to change the ending of “Allegiant” from the book because, despite the series’ enormous popularity, very few people actually liked the third and final book because of its ending. Having now finished reading the series, I can report that “Allegiant” does differ in many ways from the book, which will probably make the book series’ fans happy. Of course, with one more movie left to go, the major outcome that fans hated most could still happen, but there’s hope it might not. If you are a fan of the series, you’ll probably like “Allegiant” the movie better than the book, and it certainly has its moments.
James, for example, continues to be a standout in his role as Four. This guy has serious leading man potential, and he proves it again here, taking the spotlight from Tris and Woodley for most of the movie. Although the visual effects are not very good, the imagination behind them and the world depicted is worth a few points, if we’re counting.
Parents wondering if it’s acceptable to allow their teens to view this movie should be aware of a few things. There is some profanity, although it’s mostly mild, and a few scenes where Tris and Four passionately kiss. There is a lot of violence, as believed traitors are executed at close range, characters exchange gunfire and fight, and colonies are attacked. It’s rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some partial nudity, and I’d recommend parents follow that age guideline.
Overall, “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” isn’t a terrible movie. Going in, I wanted to like it a lot but never could get there. It simply drags too much to be a movie people who haven’t read the book should invest their time or money in. My suggestion: Wait for the video.
“Allegiant” opens in theaters nationwide March 18.