Today, March 18, 2016 marks the release of the third movie in The Divergent Series, Allegiant, based on the books by Veronica Roth. I had the opportunity to attend the world premiere this past Monday (see recap here).
Starring Shailene Woodley as Tris and Theo James as Four/Tobias, The Divergent Series: Allegiant picks up where Insurgent left off, with the city of Chicago having learned that there is a world outside of the wall waiting for them to unlock the message and venture outside. Nervous about not knowing who exactly is waiting outside the wall, Evelyn (Naomi Watts) commands that no one will be leaving Chicago until they learn more. After all the work she did to unlock the message, Tris is not pleased and teams up with Four, Christina (Zoe Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and even Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles Teller) on a mission to get over the wall that separates them from the rest of the world. This brings us to more thorough explanations of the world that Tris is living in and explains what led to the Chicago factions experiment. At its simplest level, it comes down to genetic modification having left mankind in a dark place and the struggle to recover from a scientific disaster. The world outside the wall is a mess and, according to David (Jeff Daniels), Tris is the answer because she is genetically pure. Tris gets pulled into David’s plan to “fix” the problems in Chicago. Meanwhile, Four isn’t getting any special treatment because he is genetically “damaged,” and he quickly learns that everything is not as it seems at the Bureau. The Divergent Series: Allegiant introduces us to the world outside the wall and then brings us back to Chicago as Tris, Four, and their friends have to make sacrifices to save the place they call home.
Performances by the cast are really well done. Tris’s story arc doesn’t give Shailene a ton to do – as David’s protégé, she spends a lot of the movie swept up in his aura – but what she does, she does well. Four’s role becomes even more prominent in Allegiant, giving Theo James room to excel. He has some incredible action-packed scenes and generally a much larger, more heroic role. While the character of Peter is not a good person, actor Miles Teller provides much needed comedic relief with some of the best lines of the entire film. Even Tris’s wishy-washy brother Caleb has some lighter and more courageous moments than we’ve seen from him before. We don’t see a lot of Evenlyn or Johanna but the conflict between them spurs a lot of the action. Fan-favorite Uriah is still not nearly as visible as many would like, but Keiynan Lonsdale is a great asset to this franchise and I certainly hope we get to see more of him in the final film.
Even more so than the first two movies, Allegiant really highlights that this is a world of the future, with technology beyond anything we have currently. It’s also a world that has been thoroughly destroyed by war and science gone wrong — besides the genetic damage and war-torn land, the air, rain, and rivers are all thoroughly contaminated. However, while the ideas of these technologies are great, the special effects and CGI don’t always come across as being realistic. Some of it appears too cheesy to truly feel futuristic and detracts from the overall experience.
I do want to warn that fans hoping for a true adaptation of Veronica Roth’s books will probably be disappointed in Allegiant. With this movie, it’s a good idea to come in with an open mind and prepared for a sequel to the Insurgent movie, not a copy of the Allegiant book. Because books and movies are a different medium, changes have had to be made. Allegiant is entertaining and action-packed, and the acting is top-notch even while the special effects may be somewhat cheesy.
I’ll admit that it’s been a while since I’ve read the book so I can’t tackle accuracy well, but from what I remember, The Divergent Series: Allegiant uses up the majority of the plot information from the book. This leaves me wondering where Lionsgate is planning to go in the final film, The Divergent Series: Ascendant. Are they planning to keep the ending from the books, which many fans were upset about? Was Four’s more heroic role a set up for a different ending?
It will certainly be interesting to see where things go from here. The Divergent Series: Allegiant is in theaters now and The Divergent Series: Ascendant is scheduled to hit theaters on June 9, 2017!