'Allegiant' adds more chaos to an already confusing storyline

Coming to you from the dregs of the YA franchise community, the Divergent Series has just released what we all thought would be the last installment, Allegiant. Now listen guys, I promise not to use the words “dystopian Chicago” because it’s everyone’s favorite phrase for these films. But in case you aren’t familiar with the Divergent Series schema, I will give you the run down to understand my thoughts on Allegiant.

These three movies take place in a post-apocalyptic city where people are divided into five “factions” based on human virtue. Abnegation- the selfless; government and charity, Amity- the peaceful; farming hippies, Candor- the honest; legal teams, Dauntless- the brave; security and police, Erudite- the intellectual; scientists and doctors. In Divergent at the age of 16, everyone is tested and chooses a faction to join based on their results. Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley) realizes she doesn’t fit into just one faction, but three. This makes her “Divergent,” a dangerous category in the eyes of Janine (the lovely Kate Winslet), Erudite leader and later, self-appointed Dictator of Chicago. Tris choses Dauntless where she meets her great love, Tobias “Four” Eaton played by Theo James— a natural on screen; he would have been a great Christian Grey, and the two spend their time dividing and conquering basically. The franchise certainly procured better talent than the Twilight series, by a long shot. And although Woodley is definitely no Jennifer Lawrence, she commands a volume of empathy from the audience.  

Shailene Woodley in 'Allegiant' Image: Summit Entertainment

Shailene Woodley in ‘Allegiant’ Image: Summit Entertainment

The second installment, Insurgent lost director Neil Burger who served as executive producer, and gained Robert Schwentke. It begins just five days after the first film ends. Four and Tris are hiding out with the farmers of Amity. We meet Four’s mom, Evelyn (Naomi Watts) who is the leader of the “factionless” – those who were unable to pass their faction training and the divergents on the run. At the end of this film, we find out the walled city of Chicago was actually part of a post apocalyptic experiment and the world outside (world within a world like Maze Runner) is waiting for them to rejoin. The film acquires better action sequences but is has a different filming style. And frankly, Tris’ hair looks like shit. I digress. Many like Insurgent more than Divergent. This film has a score created by Joseph Trapanese instead of a song-based soundtrack of the first. It didn’t stick out much to me; it was darker and more intense but less exciting. Divergent was filmed stylishly, and Insurgent takes a strange turn for me. It received mostly negative criticism on the storyline.

Of course, we’re too far in now, right? That’s just what the producers were banking on. When you are two movies into a novel series, especially if you’ve read the books, you’re already committed till the end. Dammit. I had to go see what I thought would be the last installment, Allegiant. While the first film may have fallen short on atmosphere and scenery and the second loses style, the third gains all of those aspects but loses performance and storyline. It’s like a complete switch.

Allegiant begins with the tape recording from the end of Insurgent indicating there is life outside of Chicago’s wall. Tris compares Evelyn to Janine early on so there’s no mistake that she’s the new, poorly chosen HBIC. Once Tris and Four realize they have to defy Evelyn and escape the walls, they find The Bureau of Genetic Warfare where they are sorting out the damage humans did by choosing their kids’ genomes, led by yet another shady adult figure, David (Jeff Daniels). Tris is faced with the choice of choosing to trust him, or following her heart. Time after time, Tris seems to choose all the wrong choices before she finds the right, so prepare to sit through a pretty predictable film. The characters are more developed and we can find humor in notorious side-switcher Peter (Miles Teller), and Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort). However, the real draw here is the technology; it is awesome. There are pixelated force fields and futuristic aircrafts that even outdo Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Left: Theo James. Right: Shailene Woodley. in Allegiant. Image Summit Entertainment

Left: Theo James. Right: Shailene Woodley. in Allegiant. Image Summit Entertainment

It’s a real bummer that nothing actually happens in Allegiant. The film has gained heaps of negative reviews predominantly because they split the last book into two films. Hunger Games got huge push back from splitting Mockingjay into parts 1 and 2… Allegiant you’re not exempt.  Although it’s separated, the second half will be called Ascendant. So as Allegiant was supposed to tie up lose ends, it stretches the chaos from Insurgent even further (two hours further). Unlike The Hunger Games, these films are not set in a fantastic and organized world you want to immerse yourself in. Yet, there are too many similarities between the two franchises. Tris is a symbol in this new government just like Katniss, but who is Woodley kidding? This scrawny girl isn’t pulling off these action scenes. Divergent had a more believable Tris.

Leaving the theater, general consensus of the audience around me felt the movie was so futuristic that it seemed silly. I liked the first film most; the storyline was easy to follow and it was full of possibilities. Insurgent fell flat for me. Allegiant is also directed by Robert Schwentke, Trapanese returned to create its score, but the cinematographer has changed yet again, to Florian Ballhaus. The plot was repetitive and nothing was aesthetically pleasing or exciting enough to hold my interest. This franchise has struggled to distinguish itself in the YA world. With all the changes in the team early on as well as the conditions of the novels, these films are just all disjointed. Unfortunately even the charming Woodley and James can’t save this one.