Movie Review: The Divergent Series: Allegiant
(Warning: Allegiant Spoilers Ahead)
Taken literally, the word allegiant means faithful follower. This movie of the same name, however, is anything but faithful to the last book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy that it’s based on.
Compared to the Divergent and Insurgent novels, which had 70% and 67% of its amazon.com reader-reviewers ranking it 5 stars respectively, Allegiant was a dud with only 38% of its readers ranking it 5 stars and 20% actually giving it 1-star.
Going by that logic, the movie’s screenwriters Maze Runner’s Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (both wrote for Exodus: Gods and Kings) might have thought they were saving the franchise by deviating from the Allegiant novel. The novel (whose pre-sales outstripped those of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay by 5 times), according to Bustle, was not only savaged by poor reviews from its own fans, the author also received Twitter death threats.
But the movie screenplay, which has added new scenes such as the confrontation of Four’s (Theo James) parents, changed the importance of major characters like Uriah (Keiynan Lonsdale), and replaced the original storyline of Nita (Nadia Hilker) exposing David (Jeff Daniels) with Four figuring things out on his own, did little to improve the likability of this first of 2-part movie adaptation. After the letdown of Insurgent in terms of its movie plot, UrbanWire had low expectations – to be entertained by effects, action scenes and a fitting.
Allegiant picks up from the events of Insurgent, both directed by Robert Schwentke, where inhabitants of a dystopian Chicago, have just discovered that their confinement within massive city walls wasn’t to protect them from a hostile outer world devastated years earlier by war as they’ve always been told; they were an experiment conducted by those living beyond the city walls.
The best news for our protagonist Tris (Shailene Woodley) going into Allegiant, is that Divergents like her, who have been hunted and killed for being a dangerous deviation from the neat-as-a-button Faction system, are now acknowledged as the crowning successes of the experiment. Accompanied by her boyfriend Four, her friend Christine (Zoë Kravitz) and her brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), they defy orders by Four’s mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts), the new self-appointed leader, and cross the city walls into a technologically superior outside world that has been studying their every move.
There, Tris’s values and beliefs are quickly put to the test when the Bureau of Genetic Welfare brings her to David, their Chairman and leader of the experiment. David reveals the truth about Tris’s late mother and asks for her help, revealing that the experiment was an attempt to find a solution to solve mankind’s massive mistake of genetic manipulation.
Despite Woodley’s and James’ consistent and remarkable performances, with the attempts to squeeze in new scenes of disagreements and negative emotions between the on-screen couple, the pair appear stiff and predictable, compared to the previous 2 movies.
However, Allegiant delivers a spectacular job on its visual design and effects – from futuristic cities to transport and weapons. During its 121-minute run time, the scenes in the movie that stood out the most came from the visual effects of futuristic technology like the military gear and impressive architecture. Mixed with a wicked soundtrack that captures the mood of the different scenes, from Producer-Composer Joseph Trapanese, Allegiant pulls off its visual and audio aesthetics.
And that’s about the only thing Allegiant managed to do well. The screenplay, plot and dialogue just about dragged this movie down. Cliché moments (like playing the ‘mum’ card), predictable plot twists (the good guy turns bad) and cringe-worthy, cheesy lines (‘you are the guardian of the future’), Allegiant’s got them all. The only upside to the dialogue was perhaps the bits of sarcastic and witty banter between Peter (Miles Teller) and David that were strategically thrown in.
Having read the novel, we were anticipating side characters like Uriah, a divergent who appeared in Insurgent, to become more developed in Allegiant. Instead, they were simply pushed aside like yesterday’s news (Uriah barely spoke 2 sentences in Allegiant) to make way for unusually lengthy scenes of Tris getting betrayed and being forced to make tough decisions to save people again.
Fans can forgive movie adaptations for not being faithful if they deliver a superior alternative (the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings series for example), but even deviating from the weakest story in the trilogy, has not helped this movie. Fans may still watch Allegiant but there’s no promise that they’ll be any happier about it.
Our Rating: ★½☆☆☆
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Release Date: Mar 17
Runtime: 121 minutes
Censorship Rating: PG
Genre: Science Fiction, Action
Director: Robert Schwentke
Main Actors: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Jeff Daniels, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts, Zoë Kravitz
Photos courtesy of Golden Village