The Divergent Series Hits an All-Time Low with Allegiant
It takes quite a bit for me to be insulted by a movie, it really does. The only movie that comes to mind, recently, is the Fantastic Four film that came out this past year. When I go into a movie, regardless of what that movie happens to be, my goal is to enjoy it. I try to give films the benefit of the doubt and this tactic generally works for me because I can usually immerse myself in the movie-going experience enough to at least enjoy even a bad film. But man… let me tell ya’….Allegiant is just an overdone crap-fest that, despite a promising premise and even some solid stand-alone scenes, often borders on insulting. And, really, this film has a solid amount of things going for it that just didn’t pan out for its final production. The SciFi element of the Allegiant was pretty entertain and creative and would have made an interesting movie all on its own. Additionally, any scene in which the character Four (hate the name) is fighting feels extremely bad ass and Miles Teller does a great job as the ‘likable-jerk’ for this movie, and that is just naming a few good things about the film, there are more.
But even with all the good, the bad just outweighs it so heavily that they might as well not have been in the movie because they just felt wasted. There we actual scenes in this movie where I was left either scratching my head or looking around the theater to see if anyone else was as insulted as I was. And many of them were. I really did not like the first Divergent movie because I didn’t care for the character of Trice, nor did I think the actor playing her was very good. But the second movie, Insurgent, wasn’t half bad… it was by no stretch of the imagination a good movie, but passable. I still didn’t care for Trice, but at least the movie as a whole felt paced better and more focused than the first. But Allegiant chose, instead of maybe splitting this movie into two, to focus on far too many subplots, not of which were fleshed out very well and the production suffered quite a bit for this decision.
The film takes place just after the events of Insurgent, Four’s mother has taken power and had decided to hold trials for the traitors of Chicago. But not a normal trial– with a carefully selected jury, nope, a mob-trial where ‘the people’ get to choose what should be done to them. And, hey, nothing bad can come from mob justice, right? Trice and Four decide to leave Chicago and search for the people ‘outside the wall’ that we heard about from the second film, but not before helping her brother, a traitor, escape with them, thus making them enemies with the people of Chi-town. After escaping, they find another city that has been using Chicago as an experimental testing ground to ‘fix’ humanity and Trice agrees to help them. But they, like any other person in power we have met in this world, have a secret/evil agenda.
Now, there are other parts of this movie that I enjoyed, few as they might be, and there are other parts of the film that, though poorly executed, had some potential. I enjoyed having the brief scenes where the characters get to see or are working with tech. We get to see some pretty neat toys in this film, from free-floating elevators to mind-controlled mini-drones, the tech is pretty interesting. And, as I said before… whenever Four fights, as in past films, the choreography is pretty solid and the director does a good job getting you engaged in those particular scenes. Hell, I even liked the subplot of what the ‘new’ city that Trice is doing with the children on the ‘fringe’ if for no other reason than the fact that we get to see the core story developed further… but the good, in the case of this film, is heavily outweighed by the bad. And the bad is…well… just so horrible.
There are many cringe-worthy scenes that make your eyes role. They’re either cliché, cheesy or overly predictable. There are many times in this film where you will think “oh, this is probably going to happen next” and then it does. You will constantly think… “huh, saw that coming…”. I’ve never read the book but I hope it doesn’t play out as cookie-cutter and predictable as the movie. And the cheese factor is top notch– certain scenes feel so over-the-top or forced that it harkens back to a bad 80’s film. There is one scene where they are scaling a wall and Trice, being the ‘hero’ of the story, decides to repel down and plant a bomb on a nearby car to buy her friends some time. After planting it, even though she SHOULD be still tethered to the wall, she jumps into Four’s arms looking back in slow motion to detonate the bomb whilst being carried up the wall. It is one of those scenes you have to see to really hate… but trust me, when you see it you will hate it.
And the barren wasteland that is the earth looks like the leftovers of from the Mad Max set and any of Tim Burton’s colorful movies had a love child, it looked bad. To make matters worse, there were times where the main cast were walking in the desert and it looked like they were on a poorly made set. Which took me way out of the movie… maybe I am being picky but I just felt like the big ‘reveal’ of what the outside world looked like would be better executed.
Look, Kudos to Shailene Woodley for trying, and she may even be a decent actress… but this just doesn’t seem like the role for her. Her acting is choppy and delivers wooden lines with zero expression and her character just isn’t likable. This is something I couldn’t shake since the first film but, the character of Trice just isn’t someone I can get behind or want to succeed. The movie tries to force the idea down your throat that she is special, that she is a leader, but in the end, she’s just a poorly written character that spends most of these films making you annoyed with her, and then succeeding just because the creators of the book/film feel like she has to. And, oh my god, Woodley may have gotten into slightly better shape for this film, as she doesn’t appear to be as weak as in the original, but any time she is doing any sort of action scene in these films she looks terrible. She doesn’t look like someone who can fight, even when she is winning while fighting, it just looks awkward. There is one scene in particular, where her and a friend are going around this corridor, with shields and guns up ready to engage in a fire-fight at the drop of a hat is someone should appear. Both characters are in their best military style poses while proceeding and, when they finally do see people to shoot at, they run forward, still in the ready poses. Trice’s friend… looks normal, looks aggressive and looks believable, while Trice, herself, is essentially mimicking the same pose, but fails. Rather than run sternly, with purpose or aggression, she is practically tip-toing with her legs as close and daintily together as possible… again, this is something you have to see to really dislike but, in a scene where they music is pumping and the characters are running in slow motion (which is overused in this film), provides the feeling that this scene should be badass, but instead you’re distracted thinking, “What the hell is Shailene Woodley doing?” I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t have this question in my head the entire film…I did… and it is a haunting one.
Jeff Daniels and Miles Teller were the BEST things about this entire film. BOTH characters, mind you, are complete assholes. That is saying something… the only likable things about this movie (again other than Four’s fighting and the small tech stuff) are two dudes that are complete and utter jerks. What does that say about a movie that has a fairly positive message throughout? Just sayin’
So, do I recommend seeing this movie? Nope. Maybe, if this was after I watched Insurgent and had a little more hope for the franchise but, after actually seeing this movie, stay home. If you HAVE to watch it, watch it at home! This is a waste of time in the cinematic space and, quite honesty, is indicative of the problem that exist in the idea that every young adult novel series deserves a franchise. Not all books make good movie, and which ones studios choose should be selected more carefully in the future. There are some small redeeming qualities of this film, but there is far more bad than good. So proceed with caution.