I was able to bust through three excellent episodes of the new season of “Daredevil” before I left my house and went to see the latest installment of the “The Divergent Series”; titled “Allegiant” (or it’s full title “The Divergent Series: Allegiant”). And boy, do the measure of quality dip quite a bit between the two (maybe I should have stayed home). I went in with some hopes of redemption for the series. I actually like the first movie. I gave it a positive review when it came out and I was hopefully that its sequel would strengthen upon the foundations of the first film. Sadly I walked away disappointed with “Insurgent” and it really faltered a lot of excitement I had going ahead with the series. But, sometimes that can be a positive thing considering excitement can lead to high expectations.
“Allegiant” showcases another step down for the series. While Shailene Woodley and Theo James still work well together as good leads and some occasionally exciting fight scenes enter the mix this movie’s incredibly weak and thin script (not to mention subpar visual effects) makes for a great amount of missed opportunities and tons of predictability.
At this point in the story Kate Winslet’s Jeanine has been overthrown and now Chicago is split on how to move forward. Naomi Watts’s Evelyn and Oliver Spencer’s Johanna struggle over their differences on how to continue life inside the city. Tris, Four and the rest of their clan want to see what’s beyond the wall. The group engineer a daring escape plan and come into contact with the people beyond the wall . No, they don’t find Wildlings instead they find a group of highly advance people that have been watching them for years. Led by David (played Jeff Daniels) the group isn’t all they appear to be.
“But the group isn’t all they appear to be”, well of course they aren’t! It’s apparent within the first couple of minutes of their arrival that this group shouldn’t be trusted. This doesn’t explain Tris’s sudden trusting nature of Jeff Daniel’s David (when throughout the series Tris hasn’t trusted authority). This begins the movie’s need for the characters to act against their basic instinct and make poor choices for the sake of the plot. How many betrayals do we need before you know Miles Teller can’t be trusted?
There really isn’t many surprises in the movie either. Everything you expect to happen it does. There aren’t many new twists to the young adult formula that we’ve seen come before it. Not every movie needs to break new ground and nearly all genre movies will have some sort of cliché. But as I say numinous times over it’s all about how you execute them. A cliché can still work if you’re able to make it to the best of your ability. “Allegiant” is content with having clichés but doesn’t show much signs into putting much effort into them. We once again have the “special” one storyline; the people who don’t seem to be who they say they are, a small war, a dark history; this is stuff we’ve seen before but it’s all on auto pilot. The movie just goes through the motions.
The civil war plot is barely touched upon. It’s there in the background but it’s really not developed. One point they are all giving a trials and then the next the two groups (led by Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer) are fighting one another. This could have been a fascinating power struggle but the script isn’t mature enough to deal with it. Imagine if the fight between District 13 and the Capital was only background in “The Hunger Games”. Yeah, suddenly the movie is a lot less interesting.
I almost feel bad for Shailene Woodley because this series should have made her into a superstar. She is a great and dynamic lead. Far too good for what the series is giving her. Woodley makes the best of the material and is always watchable. I’ve come to like Theo James more with every entry and I think he is at his best here. The most interesting storyline in the movie is his. And at least his scenes do provide a couple exciting moments.
The rest of the cast seem to be acting at half speed; great actors that just aren’t giving their all. Jeff Daniels is always good and is one of my favorite supporting actors. But his performance is a bit too on the nose and campy. Naomi Watts doesn’t seem to do much and Octavia Spencer seems to be barley breaking a sweat. I get the feeling from interviews he has done, Miles Teller doesn’t want to be in this series anymore and it kind of shows. But in this case a good way. Teller plays up the sarcasm and takes advantage of every moment he can to make us laugh. His character calls out the ridiculousness of a situation almost as if he is winking to the camera.
This review comes with a caveat though. Clearly the series just isn’t meant for me at this point. I really want to like it but it’s story isn’t drawing me in and I find it to be subpar. However I think this does have a small group of devoted fans. If you are apart that group and really liked the previous two then I think you’ll really like this one too. There isn’t anything offensively bad (like the finale of “Fantastic Four” for example) the movie just feels lazy as a whole. I really hope for a strong finale next year (hell I’ll take decent). What should you see this weekend? In my opinion stay home and watch “Daredevil” season 2.