A review by Nalini Haynes
Allegiant is out on Digital and available on Blu-Ray and DVD from 27 July.
Allegiant is the 3rd movie in the Divergent series, following the precedent Harry Potter set for splitting the final book in a popular series into two movies. (We won’t mention The Hobbit. Not. Ever.)
After watching her parents’ murders and her world falling apart, Tris (Shailene Woodley) learns Chicago is an experiment run by people outside the wall. She wants to meet them to learn more but Evelyn (Naomi Watts), the new self-appointed leader, has locked the gates.
Tris assembles an A-Team and breaks out of Alcatraz, during which Great Escape she plays a significant role — while also taking the opportunity to cuddle her beau, Four (Theo James).
Rappelling down the wall, the A-Team finds a post-nuclear wasteland through which they travel until they’re rescued and taken through a camouflage wall that conceals the post-nuclear wasteland from the city. Pause. Take a minute.
Chicago is an island of green in this toxic red wasteland as is the far-distant Chicago airport (exactly how far away from the city is the airport?) where the A-Team take up new lives. They’re genome-mapped and assigned a caste in society according to the level of damage in their DNA. Tris is the only pure one among them and, I thought, the only pure person ever — until it turns out other people are pure too. Which makes her unique and vital how, exactly?
Four is assigned to security so he heads out to kidnap children surviving with their families in the Fringes. Suddenly there are livable fringes instead of all toxic wasteland with three — count ’em: THREE — green dots that are Chicago, Chicago Airport and Providence. Three green dots worldwide. Not sure how the people in the toxic wasteland survive let alone eat. With so little of the planet inhabitable, you’d think the elite would lack resources or technology but they have the kind of technological wealth and architecture imagined in The Jetsons.
This caste-based system and kidnapping of children sits well with our heroes so they jump ship to rescue Chicago from Evelyn who’s about to send amnesia gas into air ducts. Air ducts that link the entire city so she can conveniently pump gas into the atmosphere from skyscrapers.
The landscape and amnesia gas special effects demonstrate deeply flawed worldbuilding but they’re oh-so-pretty and work well visually. Says the person making snarky comments until shushed by the minion.
Allegiant avoids dwelling on Tris’s mother’s highly unlikely successful infiltration into a small closed society. It also avoids dwelling on most of the rest of the backstory that submerged the novel in treacle to accompany the Swiss cheese platter. Instead, Allegiant focuses on Our Heroes, their departure and return to Chicago, ready for the final movie where they [surprise, surprise] return to the airport again. Because ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ worked so well for Doctor Who. (Run to point A, back to point B, back to point A…)
The characters are so two-dimensional they’d disappear if they turned sideways. I’m not sure how much is original material — it’s been years since I read the books — and how much has been cut to fit the movie. For example, I remember David as a bit more complex but Jeff Daniels is a very shallow David. Is it Daniels? Is it just me? Iunno.
Of the three novels, Divergent was the best and Allegiant the slowest and most flawed. Of the movies, Divergent was the best and the second one — best known as the Inception/Matrix rip-off — is the least memorable so far. Allegiant the movie is more flawed than the novel when it comes to plot holes and WTF-worldbuilding but the characters and gung-ho plot carry the movie better than the book. The peculiar worldbuilding works on a visual level as long as we studiously ignore science. The minion wasn’t raving about Allegiant the way he raved after seeing Divergent but he enjoyed it. So did I — as long as I shut down my forebrain.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writers: Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Veronica Roth
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels
Running time: 2 hours
Watch this if you liked: The 100, The Huntsman