The Divergent Series: Allegiant Parent Review
The high-tech eye candy is cool but it doesn't make up for the lack of plot advancement induced by turning three books into four movies. The themes and violence may be frightening for younger viewers.
If you’re like me, it seems there are far too many dystopian book and film franchises aimed at adolescents. Sitting through yet another chapter of the Divergent Series, I yearn for a happy moment, a productive breakthrough or even a little patch of green grass. Fortunately this third instalment in the movie series, Allegiant, does offer the latter, but it definitely is little.
Our determined gang of Divergents continue their fight to fix Chicago, a dystopian mess of demolished buildings overrun by warring factions. (Make sure you take a look at the previous two movies or novels to catch up on the backstory.) They received a message in the previous episode that claimed the answers to their problems lay on the other side of the wall that surrounds their city. Now leader Tris (Shailene Woodley), along with her boyfriend and right-hand beefcake Four (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), the difficult-to-trust Peter (Miles Teller) and hard-core adventurer Christina (Zoe Kravitz) make a run for the barrier. In hot pursuit are soldiers following the commands of Evelyn (Naomi Watts) the crumbling metropolis’s new, self-appointed leader.
The hurdle over the wall doesn’t go well (didn’t anyone expect those wires to be electrified?) and the green on the other side of the fence is less than lush. Running across a landscape that looks like Mars, with blood-like rain to match, the fugitives are eventually greeted by a platoon of futuristic warriors that envelop them in a net-like bubble and deliver them to an outpost reminiscent of George Jetson’s condo. After a decontamination shower (naked, of course, providing us with a lingering view of Woodley in silhouette) a devious looking dude named Matthew (Bill Skarsgard) fills them in on what’s happening. Put simply, 200 years ago mankind (that’s us) was messing around with DNA and the mutants they created eventually led to planetary destruction. Believing that human genes could heal themselves, if given enough time, someone agreed to use the survivors living in the ruins of Chicago as lab rats, to see if the damage could be repaired.
The Divergents proved to be the cream of the crop and, no surprise, Tris is the creamiest. Her status as the only human to evolve from impure to pure, gets her a pass to ride the glass elevator to the penthouse suite where she meets David (Jeff Daniels), the guy who’s in charge of the experiment. Compared to the military style barracks everyone else is housed in, David’s luxurious living quarters are a not-so-subtle clue he’s not as nice as he first appears.
Torn apart by issues of trust and dealing with mounting aggression from earlier confrontations, the characters in Allegiant stumble toward an awkward mid-novel intermission (yet another final book stretched into two movies—Ascendant is scheduled for release in June 2017). The battling factions are core to the story, which features weapons use, stabbings and hand-to-hand combat with blood effects, although the visuals stop short of becoming explicit. However the themes and subtext may be more frightening for young audiences. Intense sequences depict mass extermination of a populace and the forced separation of parents and children. In the latter a father is shot after refusing to surrender custody of his child and others are seen being herded under gunfire. An earlier scene depicts an execution – we see the gun held to the convicted character’s head but the view cuts away as the shot is fired. Fortunately, the script contains only a smattering of mild profanities.
Trying to turn three books into four movies is likely the biggest reason why this instalment feels so tedious. Most of the screen time depicts characters learning to pilot fabulous flying machines, mastering the use of mini-drones for fighting purposes or keeping a remote eye on the happenings in Chicago through an array of virtual reality cameras that would give George Orwell nightmares. All the high tech eye candy is cool, but it doesn’t make up for the lack of plot advancement.
Finally, parents would do well to consider the negative outlook this series projects to its intended young audience. The future is bleak. People over 40 aren’t to be trusted. Governments are inept. Even technology takes a beating in this film as virtually every modern invention (some of which are impressive considering they must have been cooked up out of what was left in the rubble) is utilized for the purpose of invading privacy or killing. Perhaps the only take away after watching Allegiant is a reminder to teens about the importance of wisely exercising one’s civic responsibilities.Directed by Robert Schwentke. Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller . Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release March 18, 2016. Updated July 12, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Divergent Series: Allegiant here.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant Parents Guide
The society depicted in the movie uses “factions” to categorize people. What are the pros and cons of emphasizing the differences between members of a community? What happens to the residents of Chicago when those lines are pulled down?Why do some of the leaders want to create a new, but similar system? Can you see example of labeling in the society in which you live? Do you think these titles are helpful or hurtful?
Tris wants to see what is beyond the fence—even though there is no guarantee she will find anything better out there. Why do “far away pastures” usually seem greener? Why is curiosity such an irresistible temptation? What are the consequences for her and her friends for exploring that forbidden territory? Is the knowledge they gain worth the price they pay? Why or why not?