I mildly enjoyed the other two movies in the “Divergent” series (“Divergent” and “Insurgent“), but this addition to the filmed literary trilogy has all the joy completely sucked out of it. It feels like all involved would have rather been anywhere but working on this movie. It is obvious they are just showing up for the paycheck, and it’s sad.
Shailene Woodley, one of the most talented young actors working today, gives a performance so bad that I could tell she was simply phoning it in. She actually looks like she’s uncomfortable playing an action heroine, to the point where for the first time I didn’t find her believable as tough girl Tris. Theo James is capable as brawny hero Four, but let’s face it: the actor doesn’t have that much else going for him. The hugely talented Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort and Naomi Watts all give lazy performances that reek of desperation (the brief appearance from Octavia Spencer adds the only touch of class to the movie). But it’s Jeff Daniels who gets the worst actor award for this one; his delivery is borderline campy but he plays it with a very pitiful sincerity. I laughed out loud at some of his scenes — and they weren’t intended to be funny.
“Allegiant” is burdened with a convoluted plot that makes no sense and rambles on and on and on for two hours. The primary focus on animated gadgets and bloodless action sequences means there’s limited storytelling going on here. The cleverless action scenes are tediously dull, the dialogue is shallow, the acting is amateurish and the special effects are some of the worst I’ve seen in years. (No, really: a preteen kid with a laptop could’ve animated better CGI; the movie looks terrible)! Another big problem that these films have never been able to overcome is the fact that their characters are across the board unlikable. I’ve never rooted for nor cared for any of them, and their flaws are amplified even further since this latest installment is so tiresome.
If Hollywood doesn’t soon step in with better film adaptations (like “The Fifth Wave“), I fear for the future of the young adult genre.
Easily the most forgettable entry in the “Divergent” series, “Allegiant” picks up where “Insurgent” left off. Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is dead, the power structure in Chicago has crumbled and the new rebel group led by Evelyn (Naomi Watts) has taken power. The new regime appears to be just as brutal and ruthless as the old one, and Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), and their small group leave the city walls to explore what’s beyond.
Although I had seen both of the previous movies in this series, I found myself more than a little confused by “Allegiant.” The silly faction idea, with its on-the-nose message about the importance of individuality, was at least something to grab hold of and was an effective device for telling a story set in a dystopian future. Here, though, with the factions gone and Jeanine dead, the denizens of the “Divergent” world have divided themselves into multiple groups with divergent (see what I did there?) interests and it has become much more difficult to care about any of them. While both “Divergent” and “Insurgent” left me at least partially interested in seeing what happens next, I find myself not caring at all about where things go from here.
Worse yet, the movie pretty much wastes its cast. The strength of these movies has been its use of talented actors which were able to elevate the source material. In “Allegiant,” the star of the show has become the cheesy and unrealistic computer-generated effects. Maybe I was spoiled by the 2015 practical effects-laden feasts “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Mad Max Fury Road,” but this movie in particular should be exhibit A in any discussion about why too much CG is a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy a good effects-driven sci-fi movie as much as anyone. But this isn’t good sci-fi, and these aren’t good effects. The capable young stars are almost forced to sit on the sideline while we watch a giant floating silver thing fly, attach, or crash into other giant floating silver things or barren landscapes, over and over again. The actors are reduced to lots of green screen running, shouting, and shooting, and it’s all kind of dull. I like these actors, and I wanted to see more of them actually getting to act and interact with one another. If not for the cast and the little opportunity they are given to actually act, I would have rated this movie even lower.
If you’re looking for good science fiction, go see “Star Wars” again. It’s still in theaters. Skip this one.