The Divergent Series: Allegiant Movie Review
Expectations can be a bitch. They can also make mediocre movies seem better than they actually are. Allegiant, the third movie in the forgettable Divergent series, benefits mightily from the extremely low expectations set by its tepid predecessor and somehow, amazingly, despite all its flaws and problems, manages to be a mildly entertaining young adult flick.
Allegiantis based on the first half of the third book by Veronica Roth, though much of the plot has been significantly altered. That's a good thing, because the book is--no joke--one of the worst books I have ever read.
Okay, I take it back.
Roth’s “Allegiant” is the worst book I’ve ever read.
The movie does away with most of what made the second film so bad (and at least some of what made the movie so bad), namely the over-the-top hallucination/serum sequences, Kate Winslet’s “how did I get blackmailed into being in this movie?” character and even Tris’s offensively bad mom haircut. With the factions all but dissolved and the action moving beyond the city's walls, the silly premise of the first two movies is largely gone, too.
Of course, there is still plenty of sappy young adult drama, cheesy dialogue and swirling plot holes to cause plenty more eye rolling. A fellow critic called the movie a “shit sandwich,” and who am I to argue?
Nonetheless, returning Robert Schwentke recovers nicely from the last movie he made (hint: it was the last Divergent movie), though the movie still suffers from some laughably random and/or slow-motion shots in some vain attempt to appear artistic or sophisticated. He's not a very good director judging by the films he's made thus far in his career, but at least Allegiant hurtles forward with momentum and purpose, even if it ends with a “to be continued.”
Shailene Woodley holds her own, though she’s so much better than the material around her. Miles Teller, well aware that he trapped with a thankless role in a thankless franchise, tries just a little bit harder this go-around, though his talent is still largely wasted. Meanwhile, Theo James takes his shirt off and Jeff Daniels appears as yet another how-the-hell-did-they-get-him-to-do-this cast member, joining fellow award-winning victims Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer.
Let’s be frank: the Divergent franchise isn’t very good. It’s based on a mediocre set of books and the movies have been sloppy adaptations at best. But Allegiant is an improvement on the previous two and arguably the best of the three so far--it’s dumb, it’s mindless, and it might be crap, but it’s entertaining-enough crap.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.