Monday, October 25, 2021

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Film Review

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“Allegiant” is supposed to be the penultimate film in the grand climax of the “Divergent” series based on the young adult novels by the same name. Instead, all it manages to be is a kind of sympathy-generation device for series lead Shailene Woodley. She did an admirable job in the first film of the series, but if you watch “Insurgent,” the second film in the series, closely enough, you can actually watch her soul slowly die as she realizes how terrible the film she’s making is.

“Allegiant” PG-13 121 minutes Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels

121 minutes
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels

But at this point, she’s stuck. Contracts have been signed, and reputations are on the line. What would be worse, to ruin her career by getting embroiled in a huge lawsuit by trying to walk away from a commitment, or to ruin her career by continuing to have her name attached to this dead, stinking albatross corpse?

For those who are hellbent on seeing this and need a recap, “Divergent” centered around the story of a dystopian world where everyone is divided up into one of five factions, based on personality traits. Woodley’s Tris is an outlier — a Divergent — because she has traits from more than one faction. So, yes, we start off in a world where we’re told that people with well-rounded personalities are the freaks. Great start.

The second film nominally follows Tris and her friends as they continue their rebellion against the ruling class and work to find a reason for the Divergent’s existence in a world that clearly is created to avoid them. The film handles this by spending two-thirds of its length showing its characters fighting over a magical box, then the last third trying to explain what the contents mean.

Prep Iowa

Now, for the third installment, the producers have opted for the new fad of taking a third book and splitting it into two films, because nobody in Hollywood understands how books work and are convinced that people love films that are filled with nothing but exposition, followed by films that are nothing but context-less climax.

But you shouldn’t care about any of that. I don’t care if you’re a fan of the books, a teenager, an adult with weird tastes, or Woodley’s parents. Nobody should care about seeing this story to its conclusion anymore. The first two films were so terrible and devoid of sense, the only people still lining up to see how it ends should be sociopaths and people like Leonard from “Memento,” who have lost the ability to create new memories and have blissfully forgotten the series to this point.

If the terrible story weren’t enough, the special effects look dreadful, the dialogue is some of the worst in the series, and the acting, with the lone exception of Miles Teller’s Peter, is so wooden and lethargic that it’s impossible to root for anyone. Even poor Woodley has secretly realized that there’s nothing she can do for this role anymore and is clearly going through the motions.

There will be one more of these films next year. Hilariously titled “Ascendant,” one can only assume that the title is an oblique reference to the entire franchise finally dying and going to a better place, up in terrible movie heaven. But for now, “Allegiant” is going to sit in your local theater, taking up perfectly good real estate, potentially keeping you from seeing some better, smaller release. And for that reason alone, you should hate it. CV

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