The idea of utilizing a dystopian setting for both books and movies has become overused since the release of Suzanne Collins’ critically acclaimed “Hunger Games” trilogy. Like the hydra in Greek mythology, it seems like every time a new movie with a dystopian setting gains average reviews, two more subpar dystopian movies pop up soon after, thus attaching a certain stigma to these films.
“The Divergent Series: Allegiant,” which premiered on March 18, was no exception. The first of a two-part finale manages to bring the first half of Veronica Roth’s final novel of the “Divergent” trilogy to life, though it underperforms at just about every level, much like its predecessors.
Shailene Woodley tries far too hard as Tris Prior, the protagonist, to impersonate Jennifer Lawrence’s beloved Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” and falls flat on all fronts. Her inability to properly emote, coupled with her character’s inconsistencies, are part of what brings this movie down; slotting just about any other actress into the role of Tris would dramatically increase the film’s overall quality.
Four (Theo James) adds a pretty face to the motley crew of characters trying to figure out what happens beyond the walls. However, James, like Woodley, just can’t convey his character’s true feelings. His relationship with his mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts), the new leader of Chicago after the death of Janine at the end of the previous film “Insurgent” appears forced due to a lack of chemistry.
Surprisingly, the best performances came from minor characters. Johanna (Octavia Spencer), the former leader of the faction of Amity and the current leader of the opposition to Evelyn, is a beacon of hope and one of the only reasons why I did not get up and leave the theater halfway through the movie. Miles Teller did a better-than-expected job as Peter as well, portraying the only snarky turncoat in a sea of seemingly good people.
The plot itself does not move as rapidly as the previous two films did, which is understandable yet aggravating, especially for viewers who, like me, read the book before going to the theater. The inconsistencies between the novel and the film were numerous and the thought that there is still another movie needed to finish off this series once and for all should scare viewers and readers alike. The repeated theme of damaged versus pure people also gets old fast and could lead to some serious trouble in the final film.
Though the acting and plot do significant damage, the film makes up some ground in the editing department. The use of computer generated images throughout the film adds a futuristic element the film needs to compete with other dystopian films; however, at times it appears the characters are no longer on Earth, as the reddish tinge of the world beyond the walls of Chicago greatly resembles Mars or Jupiter.
“The Divergent Series: Allegiant” is by far the worst out of all the “Divergent” films in all categories. With one film remaining before the world can finally put this particular dystopian society to rest, fans of Tris and Four can only hope that the finale ends with a bang and not with a whimper as the past films have.