Friday, March 18, 2016

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Review

Yipee!!!! We get to deal with yet another chapter of the extremely boring Divergent Series. Going into Divergent, I did have a lot of friends who had read the book and loved it, so I went into the movie fairly intrigued. I did love The Hunger Games books and movies after all. But wow! Divergent wasn't unwatchable, but there was zero creativity. Every plot point in the book was a complete ripoff of something else. It completely took me out of the movie. I went into Insurgent hoping for something better than the first, but holy cow it took a huge nosedive. Not only did it continue the trend of ripping things off, but it wasn't even remotely interesting or watchable at all. I just didn't care one bit. In fact, I hated it so much that it ended up on my list of my top 10 worst movies of 2015. Needless to say I wasn't excited for Allegiant at all. But I am a bit of a completionist when I start a movie franchise, so here I am reviewing this movie for all of you! Now to be fair, I did go in with an open mind, hoping that this would at least be an improvement over Insurgent. Turns out it was. No, I'm not giving Allegiant a pass, but I wasn't hating life like I was during Insurgent.

If you didn't get the news, there are only three books in The Divergent Series. We have Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant. But no. This isn't the final movie. Like always, we have to split the final book into two movies and that's exactly what they've done. This is a finale part one. However, they tried to be a little clever with their titles in that instead of going with Allegiant Part 1 and Allegiant Part 2, they threw a curve ball at last second and renamed them Allegiant and Ascendant. Don't let that confuse you, because you might be confused at the ending if you thought you were seeing the grand finale of this series. There is a cliffhanger at the end and there is another movie coming out next year. Don't let that surprise you. That said, there is a lot that happens in this movie. A lot more than I was expecting for a part one of a finale. Part of me wonders if they went way deep into the book with this third movie, but I have no idea because I haven't read the book. Nor do I ever have a desire to read these books to see how they compare. If you have read the books, feel free to let me know in the comments how this compares.

The funny thing about starting this movie is that I realized when the credits started that I kinda forgot what happened in Insurgent. I almost wish that I had read the wiki real quick before going in so I can remind myself. Turns out I wasn't that lost. Kate Winslet's character is no more and the rebels who finally put a stop to her are out for revenge, so they put all of her remaining followers on trail. But pretty soon our main band of characters start to get a little disturbed by this because they feel that Four's mother, who has taken lead, is doing the same thing to them as they were doing before. Thus we get this moral dilemma that would be interesting had I not realized that this is the same exact dilemma at the end of Mockingjay. President Snow has been captured and President Coin has the genius idea of doing to the capital what the capital had been doing to them for the past 75 years or so. Facepalm. You couldn't help yourselves, could you Allegiant? You just had to ripoff The Hunger Games in some fashion yet again. Can't say I'm surprised. The first two movies were all about ripping things off from other franchises. Why should this one be any different? And no, this isn't just following a formula or paying tribute. This is a blatant rip-off. There's a difference.

Oh but that's not the end of it. In fact, we're just getting started here. Like in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, they escape from where they are currently confined to find nothing but a deserted wasteland that they have to wander through in order to make it to another group of people ready to oppose the people that they were just with. Ha ha. You know you've dipped to new lows when you are ripping off of The Scorch Trials. That movie wasn't even that great. But when we get to these new people who claim they are the good guys, we learn that this has been The Truman Show for the last however many years. These people have watched our heroes for their whole lives and thus they are like celebrities walking in. Then Tris gets summoned to evil Dumbledore's office where he tells her that she is a pure blood while everyone else she knows is a mud blood. Then evil Dumbledore pulls out the pensieve to show our chosen one some memories of the past to convince her of what has gone on in a certain person's past. Okay, they don't use Harry Potter terminology and the memory thing isn't quite like the pensieve. But I'm sure you got the point. Evil Dumbledore is named David and he's played by Jeff Daniels, which is kinda cool.

The sad part of all of this is that this was actually kind of a fun story with good acting. Most people did a good job. More on that in a bit. But the action was fun. They had these fancy, futuristic suits with shields, guns, and little flying discs that they could control that were genius. The pacing was great. The movie flowed very well and didn't drag on. But holy cow, I was having a heyday with how much they were ripping off of everything else. A lot of people thought I was being nit-picky with Divergent, but I wasn't even trying with this one. It was just so fetching obvious that things came to me without me even thinking twice. I was like. oh hey, that's Mockingjay. Oh hey, The Scorch Trials. Oh hey, The Truman Show. Oh hey, Harry Potter. Oh hey, Tomorrowland. Oh hey, Batman Begins/The Amazing Spider-Man/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Because yes, after all that I've said, they do go to a place that looks like Tomorrowland and the ending uses the exact same plot as the three movies I just mentioned there at the end of my little tirade there. It was hilarious! In a bad way. And holy freaking predictable. You can see literally everything in this movie coming from a mile and a half away. The second they escaped the city, I had an idea of exactly what was going to happen. And I was right. And you will be, too, because I'm not necessarily an expert at predicting movies.

Let's talk about the acting. Because, no, the story isn't good at all and the direction is poor. Sure, the source material probably has something to do with that, but as I've not read nor will I ever read the books, I cannot officially blame them. However, despite that, we have some big name actors and some great performances. Shailene Woodley as Tris is our star and she's done just fine in all of these movies. I'm not head over heels for her, but I'm not complaining either. However, I do think it's annoying that we now seem to have to add the obligatory "get Shailene Woodley naked" scene in these movies now that she has seemed to become more daring of an actress. Camera angles and lighting kept it PG-13, but this was a weird prolonged decontamination scene of some sort when they got to the new place. They sent her to a fancy room by herself and the computer told her to take off her clothes and burn them. And she listened. And I swear this lasted at least a minute or two of her going through this decontamination process. I just felt like I should warn you of that in case you need another reason to skip this movie if that sort of thing is a deal-breaker. Moving on, I definitely prefer J-Law over Shailene, but she's a solid female protagonist in these movies.

Her co-star, though, was the real star of this particular chapter. I'm talking about Theo James, who plays the love interest with the dumbest name. Four. Why? Just, why? Oh well. I don't know when he got the Captain America treatment in this franchise, but he was certainly a boss in this movie. There were several scenes where it was him facing off against five or more guards and he totally kicked trash every time. It was kinda fun. Ridiculous and dumb. But fun. He was also the smartest one in this in that he figured out what was really going on almost as fast as I did. I don't know why it took Shailene Woodley so long, but I'm glad someone was ahead of the obvious game. Moving onto other actors. Miles Teller was actually annoying as crap. After his fantastic performance in Whiplash, he's certainly followed up with some awful performances with these movies on top of Fant4stic. I hope for a quick recovery for him. Ansel Elgort was completely useless in this and even looked mostly bored throughout. I really don't know how they conned Jeff Daniels to join this franchise, but he did good as evil Dumbledore. A lot of fun. Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer also return in major roles for this. Don't know why they joined in the first place, but they are here and they also do a great job.

Like I've said many times over the last two years now, I'm not a fan of this franchise. I think it's a horrible story that continues to be a rip-off of so many different movies and franchises, especially The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. I go in with an open mind every time, yet without fail they keep reminding me of why I don't like this franchise. I'm happy that I only have to make it through one more. That said, if you think I'm totally crazy and you love everything about these books and movies, then by all means go see this movie. Don't let me stand in your way. In terms of my personal enjoyment, Allegiant was a step up from last year's Insurgent and probably on par with Divergent. That's certainly not saying very much, but it does mean that if you liked those two movies then you'll like this one. But if you're on my side of the spectrum with this franchise and you didn't like the first two, then don't expect anything more from Allegiant. Yes, it is watchable this time around and, no, it probably won't make my top 10 worst movies of the year list like Insurgent did, but it suffers from the same exact problems that the other two had. Thus you can probably feel free to skip it. Unless you are a completionist and have to finish the franchise regardless of quality. My grade for Allegiant is a 6/10.

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