Director: Robert Schwentke
Writers: Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, and Veronica Roth
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer
Genre: Adventure, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: PG-13 (intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity)
When the Allegiant novel released three years ago, fans clamored to read the conclusion tale of this New York Times Bestselling YA series, but the novel’s shocking ending quickly turned that excitement into outrage. Because of this disappointment, I didn’t read this sequel until the winter of 2015. Like most of the fans, I too shared their negative feelings toward the novel.
Going into the theater, I carried these hesitations, but also tried to hold onto some hope that the adaptation will redeem this poorly executed story such as with Insurgent. If you haven’t seen the other films, I suggest reading my reviews of both Divergent and Insurgent, before continuing.
Violence/Scary Images: There is quite a bit of violence. Characters wound and kill each other with guns. One character receives serious burns on his face, and the camera zooms in on wounds from gunshots and a hovercraft accident. There is a bit of a scary sequence when Tris enters a decontaminating procedure and a gel-like substance encases her and prevents her from breathing for a few seconds.
Language/Crude Humor: The language is minimal. I caught maybe one or two usages of a**, h***, and sh**, unlike the book which had a considerable amount of swearing.
Spiritual Content: None of note.
Sexual Content: There are two short partial nudity scenes. Tris and Four have to strip after being outside in the toxic environment to be cleaned, and that means burning their clothes. On separate occasions, you see Tris’s and Four’s silhouetted naked bodies.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: Many of the villains use an orange vaporous drug to wipe the memories of others.
Other Negative Content: None of note.
Positive Content: Tris displays enormous mercy toward her brother. The book highlighted on this more, but I like that the movie included this element. Caleb has lied and betrayed her, yet despite all of the hurt, she still shows him mercy and helps him. This takes an enormous amount of strength and is one of the many things I admire about Tris. In the end, she wants to help people and values others more than herself. She may not show her abnegation through modest servitude, but she displays it through her acts of bravery and intelligence.
Tris has revealed that there are other people left in the world besides those residing in Chicago, but since Jeanine is dead, Evelyn has taken over and prevented anyone from leaving the wall to explore this revelation. Tensions rise as the city divides in two. One side wishes to abolish the factions. The other wishes to keep them. To discover what’s out there and find a way to save her city, Tris escapes Chicago with Four, Christina, Peter, and Caleb. Together they come to find the outside bigger than they ever imagined and with even more secrets–ones that could mean the end of Chicago.
To my delight, the Allegiant film’s plot stays close to the book. The novel tends to drag out, which is one of the many things that irritated me about it, but the movie speeds up the pace and allows for more action whether it be grappling up a wall or conflict between the goals of characters. The plot is more streamlined, focused, and escalates faster. The movie still alludes to the two point of views in the book of both Tris and Four by having the camera pan between those two characters. The two protagonists also are more involved than in the book, since they participate in the events instead of just hearing about them.
Four is definitely better in the film than in the book. His novel portrayal made him seem weak, indecisive, and close-minded. The movie displays him more like the Four we know and love: strong, brave, and a seeker of truth. Tris I’m more iffy about. The book showed her character development bloom more than the movie did. In the film, David skewed her objective with his manipulation. She wasn’t as pure as I wanted her to be.
The casting was very good. There weren’t many new members, except David (Jeff Daniels), Matthew (Bill Skarsgard), and Nita (Nadia Hilker) mainly. Jeff Daniels (The Martian, Dumb and Dumber) did well in this role as the head of the Bureau, David. He is cunning and ruthless like in the book. I definitely preferred film Nita, since book Nita aggravated me to no end with her seduction of Four and her whiny nature.
The trouble is with this new cast, the old one seemed to become lost. Many of the characters from the previous films had perhaps had a cameo, except for Evelyn, Johanna, Edgar, Peter, Caleb, and Christina. Marlene, Uriah, Jack, Tori, and others barely had a role or never appeared at all. The same parental tensions between Four and Evelyn remained, but his father, Marcus, seemed to all but disappear instead of his prominent role in the book. I wish the other characters were incorporated more into the story.
The effects were very cool. The director definitely took some creative license with adding a toxic environment and really advanced technology, including ingenious drones that protect soldiers. The multi-color landscape did provide some stunning visuals. With the surveillance technology, the movie had the familiar illusion element as the past films. Both Divergent and Insurgent dealt with simulations, this one deals with surveillance technology that allows you to feel like you’re with the people you’re watching.
To complete this review I feel I must tread into spoiler territory. Proceed at your own risk. I enjoyed the majority of the movie. I didn’t mind the changes too much and the neat effects wowed me. The end approached and I braced myself for Tris’s demise as written in the original story.
To my utter surprise, she lived.
I felt happy and relieved. One of my favorite YA heroes was okay and going to get a happy ending! But I also felt shocked that they diverged so starkly from the original ending. I smiled, looking forward to a happy ending showing the bright future of Four and Tris, but … I was met with a fast wrap-up, a setting sunset, and David appearing as a hologram staring at Tris and Four. Then the movie just … ends.
“What?” I cried in my mind. Other moviegoers yelled this behind me in their seats.
I felt cheated. After so much time spent with these characters, I want a better assurance that they’re okay than a two or three minute wrap-up. The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 2 spent a good five plus minutes reassuring you that Katniss, Peeta, and their friends are going to have good endings, Panem will be all right, and they even had a last scene scene that made me burst in tears when Katniss and Peeta as adults played with their children. I wanted an ending like that for Allegiant, the book even had an ending similar to that though with depressed Four, but it at least showed the results that all of this effort to help the genetically pure and damaged came to profit.
Allegiant had the makings of a good film and a good conclusion tale for the Divergent series, but I felt the entire movie tainted by unsatisfactory ending. It was redeeming in a way, but also left you feeling sorely wanting.
+ Good special effects + Better pacing than the original story + Plot is very similar to that of the book
- The end fell very flat and left too many loose ends - Most of the original cast was unused - Some of the original themes were not highlighted as much as they were in the book
The Bottom Line
Based on Divergent and Insurgent, Allegiant could have been a great conclusive tale for the film trilogy based on the YA novels, but unfortunately the end fell through. This may be a redeeming ending for some fans and it was in a way, but it simply was not satisfying.