The Divergent Series: Allegiant

About a year ago, Wandering Through the Shelves had us binge-watching Movies Based on Young Adult Novels. The first two films in the Divergent series were neither the best or the worst things I watched that week. They’re not great- even “good” would be a stretch- but I was won over by the decency and unlikely strength of Tris (Shailene Woodley). I also couldn’t have done without the effortless charisma of Miles Teller as Peter, who brings much-needed personality to a series that takes itself way too seriously whenever he’s not on screen.

In the first two films in the series, the citizens (prisoners?) of Chicago have been assigned factions based on their defining trait (athletic, honest, kind, smart, and selfless). I’ve always found this basic premise to be a little lazy and a pretty adolescent view of the world but, hey, it’s young adult fiction. Besides, it’s what makes Divergent Divergent. To do away with these factions would be like the Twilight series continuing without any vampires or werewolves of the Fifty Shades series going straight edge. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what this series does.

Allegiant picks up where Insurgent left off, immediately after the fall of the faction system. Without it, not only does Chicago lose control over its population but the story loses its focus and coherence. Fearing that Evelyn, (Naomi Watts) is becoming as oppressive a leader as Kate Winslet’s character had been, five young adults venture over the walls. What follows is sillier than the other two films combined, exposition-heavy, and impossible to follow. Tris, the heroic non-conformist of the story, somehow starts towing the party line. Woodley does her best to keep her interest but it’s tough not to be frustrated with her when everyone onscreen and in the audience thinks it’s obvious that she’s being played. Even Miles Teller’s shtick is getting old. Pick a side, buddy!

The Divergent series isn’t really made for adults and for all I know may please its target audience. Because most 16 year-olds wouldn’t be interested in our site and most of our readers wouldn’t be interested in this series, you might wonder why I’d even bother reviewing it. To that, I can only say “Jeff Daniels”. Daniels, joining Winslet, Watts, Octavia Spencer, and Ray Stevenson, becomes the latest good actor over 40 to have his talents wasted by this trite material. How so many good actors got involved in this series, I have no idea. But judging by their performances, I can tell it’s not because they wanted to be there. By the third film, their talents are no longer just wasted. They’re giving bad performances.

What’s happening in Hollywood that the likes of Naomi Watts and Jeff Daniels need a job this badly? Or that any filmmaker could become so distracted by their pretty but mostly boring young stars that they would forget to give Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer even a single key scene?

This is why I care enough about this series to write about it.

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20 thoughts on “The Divergent Series: Allegiant

    1. Matt Post author

      I thought I could too until I saw him in this. He has such a talent for making the most out of lines of dialogue. I thought if anyone could elevate this, he could. But he really just looked embarrassed in this movie. Too bad cuz 2015 was such a good year for him.

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  1. Liz A.

    I did see the first two. Enjoyed them. My niece was a big fan of the books. She’s now 14, but she was a big fan a couple years ago (at 11?), so your estimate of fans being 16 might be a little old…

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  2. John Charet

    I hope this is the last film in the series because I hated the other ones. I have watched Veronica Roth in interviews and she comes off as a very nice kind of person and while I have not read the novels, they had to have been better written and executed on the page than they were on celluloid because she is far too talented to have complete blame for this and I do not blame her (or at least she is not completely to blame) for this mess. I know I am repeating myself here (read my reply under this site’s review of Deadpool), but If these books were written in the 90’s, Paul Verhoeven would have been an excellent choice to direct them (Robocop, Starship Troopers etc.) considering how he chooses the type of screenwriters who can turn the material into social satires. Anyway, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

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    1. Matt Post author

      Thanks, John. Sorry to tell you that there will be one more (next year, I think). While we can dare to dream about how PV would have handled the franchise, did he ever do anything that wasn’t R-rated? Don’t know if he’d be able to fit the Young Adult mold.

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  3. Natasha

    The trailer to this irritated me already – it contains so many spoilers. It is also obvious that they continued on with the Insurgent to use to source material merely as a reference guide and not as the actual story. Ugh.

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  4. Pingback: That Awkward Moment | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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