Erin Graham ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The third installment of the Divergent series has such a strong allegiance to the dystopian formula that it finds itself disloyal to its roots. Characters battle for screen time with explosions, inordinate amounts of gadgets, and abrupt introductions of new villains. The title extends a sense of loyalty to a film that doesn’t do the same for its audience, leaving it to fall back on the crutch of clichés.
Allegiant opens what seems like a few weeks after the last movie, Insurgent, ended (lazily implied through the main character’s hair growth). Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) and Tobias Eaton (Theo James) clamber up a dilapidated building to share an intimate, virtually speechless moment. It’s the first of many moments that seems to rely on special effects to draw in the audience and involves little dialogue between two characters that are supposed to be warm and friendly. Within the next half hour, through heavily contrived dialogue, there’s a hasty decision to go beyond the wall. The characters engage in their usual stunts and soon find themselves beyond the wall facing a whole new adventure of genetics, omnipresent governments, and, of course, mistrusting authority.
Jeff Daniels operates as leader of the Genetic Bureau, the corporation attempting to fix the genetic damage from before the total destruction of war. Much like all of the other actors, he does the best he can with the dialogue that he’s given, which at times isn’t much. Overall, the acting isn’t actively bad, but features few notable performances, even with a star-studded ensemble cast.
The dialogue hinders the actors because it’s pedestrian at best, featuring clichés like “gadzooks!” and a fatalistic “uh-oh” right before an explosion. At times it felt like the writers threw random one-liners into a hat and picked them out to assign to random characters; the lines didn’t always fit the characters and just seemed like they were from a list labelled “classic dystopian dialogue” with boxes waiting to be checked.
This barrier of forced dialogue renders bouts of character development to be the exception rather than the rule. The newly introduced villains blindside the audience in a way that gives these antagonists little depth and thus lessens their impact, making the clash between ideologies far less interesting. Allegiant predominantly functions as one long advertisement for special effects, featuring glossy orange bubble showers and inexplicable bubble rain. At times I felt more attached to the weapon drones than the characters that controlled them.
In the end, the film finally reminds the audience of its essence with entertaining conflict, redemption, plot twists, and exciting action sequences. Overall, however, the movie shows far more allegiance to a contrived, cookie cutter style rather than to that which makes it unique: its characters and ideological conflict. If only there had been some kind of guideline for the movie while it was being written, for example: a book.
Overall Grade: C+
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