11/04/16 01:38 Filed in: 2016
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley
The below comments (in Black) were originally tweeted in Real-time from the back row of a movie theater and appear @BackRoweReviews. Though efforts were made to tease rather than ruin this movie’s memorable lines and moments, some spoilers may exist in the following evaluation (in Red). For concerns over objectionable content, please first refer to one of the many parental movie guide websites. All ratings are based on a four star system. Happy reading!
“Are we going to do this?” Please don’t.
“Great leaders don’t seek power.” That rules out everyone running for president. #Election2016
The #RunUpTheWall sequence is exhilarating.
Why leave the beautiful forest for a radiated wasteland?
“The sky is bleeding.” #AcidRain
Hope they brought lots of drinking water. That red stream looks a bit dicey. #LiquidRadiation
I wonder if they have a spy camera inside the decontamination room. #PeepShow
“They’ve grown up watching you.” The #Voyeurism of spectatorship. Shades of #TheTrumanShow.
#Tris is “pure.” I could’ve told you that.
“Help me save the world.” What’s the catch?
Four forays into the #Fringe. #KidCollecting
Off to #PureCity. Looks like #Coruscant.
“Chicago might forget its own name.” #MassAmnesia
Reddish gas fills the streets of #Chicago. Oh wait, it’s just smog.
Final analysis: a logical extension of the earlier films that’s quite a departure thematically.
The first truly #SciFi chapter in the saga with amazing technology and salient social commentary.
Rating: 3 out of Four stars. A satisfactory series capper that leaves us with plenty to mull over.
So it turns out this isn’t the final film in the series after all—Ascendant is slated for release next year. My bad. Guess I should’ve known that this type of popular YA book to movie series, a veritable cash cow for a studio like Lionsgate, would be milked for all it’s worth. Show business is a business, after all. For those unfamiliar with Veronica Roth’s teen novels of the same name, the main theme of the Divergent series is that a well intentioned social experiment can, and often times will, go horribly wrong. The adapted screenplays based on Roth’s works capture her cynical eye toward the future and her patented brand of cautionary tale which decries the dangers of any socialist structure similar to Adolph Hitler’s Germany in the 30s and 40s as well as predetermined societies where individuality is absorbed into a rigid caste system a la the one in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (it must’ve been in the ether that I selected two historical figures with the initials A.H.). The previous two movies in the series focused on the exigencies of life in a post-apocalyptic world rife with political corruption, social upheaval and the requisite quotient of teen angst/romance. Fortunately, in the third film, Allegiant, the series has grown up as characters are faced with bigger challenges outside the wall that surrounds bombed out Chicago (maybe one of Trump’s descendants built it). The sequence where the characters scale the wall is not only a riveting action scene it’s also the incident that kick-starts the story; everything up to that point is merely dry exposition with remedial, redundant squabbles among factions in the derelict districts of the Windy City. From the moment Tris’ (Shailene Woodley) boot touches the radiated soil beyond the wall, the movie morphs into a top rate sci-fi yarn, complete with high tech trappings and scathing social commentary. The meticulous world-building that went into crafting the photorealistic “alien” landscape known as the Fringe, a scorched wasteland where sojourners must avoid polluted streams and acid rain, is first rate. The film’s lavish metropolises, especially the sleek Pure City (think Coruscant meets Apple Store), are appropriately futuristic in design and appointments and are a stark contrast to the slagheap environs featured in the earlier films. Advanced technology, like the drones, spy rooms and cloaking shuttle, are clever, forward-thinking tech concepts that add a great deal to the reality and visual vitality of the film. The new addition to the cast is duplicitous David, played to perfection by Jeff Daniels. His portrait of an antagonist with clear-cut goals and a believable motivation is absolutely superb. Daniels’ genuine, steady-handed performance not only provides the story with necessary urgency and focus, but also raises the bar for the other performers, especially Woodley, who’s grown as an actor with each successive picture in the series. Though each of the ancillary characters is given a unique assignment in the film, none of them are granted much screen time. Even main character Four (Theo James) is relegated to back burner status for much of the movie as he frets over Tris’ safety. However, Four is present for some of the movie’s most memorable action passages including the horrific child kidnapping sequence. As for other prominent cast members: Caleb (Ansel Elgort) learns how to be a voyeur, Christina (Zoe Kravitz) struts around looking tough and Evelyn (Naomi Watts) helps Peter (Miles Teller) initiate a plan to mass brainwash the citizens of Chicago in a sequence reminiscent of Scarecrow’s fiendish plot to terrorize Gotham City (also Chicago in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy) with his fear gas in Batman Begins (2005). Even though Allegiant leaves the door wide open for a sequel, it could’ve ended right here as a trilogy. In fact, I think it would’ve been satisfactory to conclude the series right here with some questions remaining and with its moral lesson still hanging in the desert air. We’ll have to see if prolonging the series was a good decision or not…from Allegiant’s performance at the box office so far, it looks like the series might be running out of steam. And speaking of steam, what keeps those trains moving 24/7?