Like last year’s sequel Insurgent, Allegiant, the third instalment in the Divergent franchise, only partially succeeds in its attempts to carve out a story that is largely different than that of its source material. Some important elements from the book were omitted (though, admittedly they could happen in next year’s Ascendant), and attempts to add in some new plot devices come across a little juvenile. One thing it does actually achieve is following through on the message that the re-naming from Allegiant – Part 1 sent out; this is a mostly self contained movie that can be viewed as a whole chapter, rather than a story cut off mid-stream.

Unlike, for example, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Allegiant doesn’t feel like a precursor to a more important conclusion. Though it spends time laying the groundwork for the final movie in the franchise, it still acts upon a lot of the seeds it sews early on. I didn’t leave the theatre feeling like I was only whetting my appetite; I felt mostly satisfied that this movie had told the story it had set out to tell.

Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown in most other respects. The movie has an interesting concept, but outside of the action, the execution of the ideas driving it was substandard. The dialogue was stiff, the acting was uninspiring, and the director’s attempts to gloss over these inadequacies with new gadgets and flashy imagery only served to make matters worse.

Despite some drastic changes to the plot, a lot of the major twists in the early chapters of Allegiant were still present. Although the revision of events in Insurgent meant that one of those twists fails to make much of an impact, even though I desperately wanted it to. There are some major things that have to happen in Ascendent, and I hope that the new director Lee Toland Rieger can succeed where Robert Schwentke failed in that respect.

Similar to Insurgent, this movie attempts to introduce us to some new characters, but Allegiant is a lot better in incorporating at least one of those characters into the plot at large. Whether that character will continue to play a major role when the series comes to a close next year remains to be seen, but they’ve at least made their mark with this film. Others don’t get much of an opportunity to shine, though it’s obvious their time will come eventually, and new franchise baddie, David (played by Jeff Daniels doing his standard thing), doesn’t overcome the lack of authority that Kate Winslet’s Jeanine had before him.

The returning cast doesn’t really grow a whole lot. Even Tris who is normally a strong lead spends a lot of this film like a deer in the headlights. Though we’re supposed to believe her journey so far has allowed her to shed the submissiveness that came along with her upbringing, she’s mostly naive and jaded in this movie, to the point where she becomes a little frustrating to follow. That’s a problem considering she’s been incredibly relatable up until this point.

The relocation outside of the confines of a grim Chicago does offer up the opportunity to have some fun in a new setting. I liked the post apocalyptic landscape that existed outside of the futuristic safe haven that was once O’Hare International Airport. It’s a nice change of pace.


Naomi Watts is still badly miscast, though she does get more versatile material to work with this time around.

I’ve come to love Octavia Spencer as Johanna. She really gets what the character is all about.

Overall, Allegiant is a disappointment. It’s a reminder that even though you can have a mostly well constructed story to adapt onto screen, if it’s not done right it will tarnish it for a lot of pre-existing fans. I don’t think this film is the worst of these kinds of attempts, but considering all of the time and effort that’s gone into the Divergent Series already, it’s a shame that the team behind it couldn’t make it live up to the potential it has to be a great YA franchise.

2 out of 5 drones

Originally posted at PandaTV.

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