The Divergent Series: Allegiant March 9, 2016 THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT (USA/12A/121mins) Directed by Robert Schwentke. Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Naomi Watts, Miles Teller. THE PLOT: After the death of Jeanine (Kate Winslet), Evelyn (Naomi Watts) puts those loyal to her on trial, while ordering that all gates through the wall to the rest of the world stay closed. Of course, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her friends are not going to stand for this so after freeing Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) they set out to find out just what is happening outside the city they now know is Chicago. What they find is not quite what they expected, and it soon becomes clear that the leader of this new world David (Jeff Daniels) has more in mind than saving the residents of Chicago from themselves. THE VERDICT: As with most film series aimed at teens and based on books, Veronica Roth’s final instalment in the ‘Divergent’ series – ‘Allegiant’ – has been split into two films. This first film shares a title with the book – with the final film being titled ‘Ascendant’ – but like most single story books split into two films, ‘Allegiant’ struggles with having too much exposition and not enough doing. Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Naomi Watts, Theo James, Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort all return to the roles they have played throughout the series, and while they do not bring much new to the film, they give solid performances throughout. Jeff Daniels is the major newcomer to the series with the role of David, and although he is an imposing presence, he is never truly given the chance to be menacing or truly intimidating. From what we see in ‘Allegiant’, it seems that Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage’s screenplay is vastly different to the story told in Veronica Roth’s novel, although the bones of the story remain the same. The screenplay is rather uninspired in terms of dialogue, and gets tangled up in itself toward the end of the second act, but it is just enough to keep the story moving and the audience engaged, while leaving enough unanswered questions that the final film will be able to pick up. Director Robert Schwentke keeps the fun and the curiosity going through most of the film, but it is when adults come together to bicker politics that the film becomes too caught up in minutiae and begins to slow down. The pacing of the first and final acts of the film is strong, and it is in the fast paced action sequences that ‘Allegiant’ thrives, but the interpersonal relationships with the threat of a new war on the horizon drags the film down. In all, ‘Allegiant’ is a film concerned with setting up the one that comes after it. The cast do fine and the action sequences are fun, but the politics and rhetoric often overwhelm the fun to be had in the film, dragging it to a crawl. ‘Ascendant’ is sure to be action packed and thrilling, but ‘Allegiant’ is a step down from the fun and engaging films the ‘Divergent’ series has offered so far. RATING: 3/5 Review by Brogen Hayes The Divergent Series: AllegiantReview by Brogen Hayes2016-03-093.0No bite filmbuff2011 Now that The Hunger Games has wrapped up, the other Young Adult film franchises are powering ahead to their own dramatic conclusions – with somewhat mixed results. The Maze Runner has already stumbled with The Scorch Trials. Divergent started with a considerable wobble, picked up a little bit with sequel Insurgent and now confidently builds towards a thrilling conclusion with The Divergent Series: Allegiant. Now that Erudite leader Jeanine is dead at the hands of Factionless leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts), a new world order has taken place in future Chicago. The Factionless find themselves at conflict about the future of Chicago with the the five factions who have re-grouped into one unit called the Allegiant, led by Johanna (Octavia Spencer). Having cracked Jeanine’s secret box, Tris (Shailene Woodley) has discovered that she is pure blood divergent and holds the key to their world’s future. The lock is in the world beyond the wall – the world which set up Chicago as an experiment to maintain peace and order. Against Evelyn’s wishes, Tris needs to find her destiny as a true divergent. Along with Four (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Peter (Miles Teller), Tris heads over the wall to discover a polluted red nuclear wasteland. It’s at this point that they’re picked up by the leader of a city in the world beyond, David (Jeff Daniels). It seems like utopia, but David has his own agenda for Tris and her friends… Based on the novel by Veronica Roth and megaphoned by returning director Robert Schwentke, Allegiant is the first half of the book with the second half due in June 2017 under the title Ascendant, rather than Part 2. Making two films out of one book may seem like a cynical commerical ploy also used in the Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games franchises. However, Allegiant feels like it actually deserves it. Whereas The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 suffered from too much over-stretched exposition and not enough action, that problem doesn’t exist with Allegiant. Schwentke and his production team were obviously keen not to fall into the same trap and instead have delivered a pulse-pounding thrill ride that doesn’t let up until the credits roll. Allegiant builds confidently as the story progresses. There’s more character development for Tris, when we get more backstory about her mother and her prior involvement with a certain someone. Her burgeoning relationship with Four is also expanded to show a deepening connection between the two. Caleb gets a shot at redemption while Peter, as unreliable as always, plays different sides off against each other – making him a triple agent? Amid all this are exciting chase sequences, shoot-outs and lots of expensive-looking, almost flawless visual effects. The mini-drones are a neat addition to the firepower wielded by Tris and her team. The money is certainly all there onscreen and it looks impressive on an IMAX screen. There are some flaws of course, like an under-used Daniels and a busy plot with lots of balls left hanging in the air waiting for a resolution. However, Allegiant is a bold, assured step forward for the franchise. Whereas most franchises falter and fail by now, Allegiant is picking up steam at a rip-roaring pace. If Allegiant is anything to go by, then Ascendant should be a knock-out. *** emerb “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” brings us the penultimate episode of the teen fantasy sci-fi series adapted from Veronica Roth’s best-selling YA trilogy. With returning director Robert Schwentke and a cast led by Shailene Woodley, it is entertaining and action packed with superb digital technology used to recreate spectacular scenes around what has been left of Chicago. Without a doubt, the dystopian themes here are impressively brought to life with clever special effects and imaginative recreations but one would have to note that logic has long since disappeared and gaps in the plot are evident. We pick up the story where Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her band of rebels forced the collapse of the faction system at the end of “Insurgent”. We saw the “factionless” leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts) executing the dictatorial Janine (Kate Winslet) while the people swarmed to the wall that was finally open after 200 years. The city is on the verge of civil war so Tris, accompanied by love interest Four (Theo James), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), loyal ally Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and the unreliable Peter (Miles Teller) run vertically up the cement surface of the wall and manage to cross the barrier. Picked up by armed soldiers, they are brought to what remains of Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The “Bureau of Genetic Welfare” is staffed by a group of twenty year olds and one respected older character and many shocking secrets are revealed here – Chicago is actually just a big experiment under constant observation. The government attempted to eliminate unwanted traits from its citizens by changing DNA. After this backfired, the new population rose up in a rebellion which left the world in a radioactive wasteland. The Bureau had to take drastic measures. After being decontaminated, our heroes are given wrist tattoos and new assignments. Tris is sent to meet with the leader and this is where we’re introduced to another potential villain – the superficially benevolent bureaucrat named David (Jeff Daniels). In his immaculate, white, sparse and highly perched office, David is obsessed with “pure” individuals, like Tris and convinces her to accompany him on the next part of his mission. Meanwhile, Four is sent to train with weapons and the others are given jobs to monitor Chicago’s activities on virtual reality screens. Back in Chicago, a factional civil war is brewing between Naomi Watts and Octavia Spence, although this remains peripheral to the main action. All the pieces are being put in place for the forthcoming finale in 2017. What I liked best was that this film is handsomely made and the real creative flair of the director and his crafts team is obvious. The rubble-strewn apocalyptic landscapes that they hike across are impressively real and the blood-coloured toxic acid rain that pours down in the desert is well done. Once inside the digitally embellished confines of the Bureau, the characters shoot from large toy-like guns and drones, they drive around in large bubble glass objects and take to the air in futuristic oval-shaped hovercrafts. Yet, despite this, it all seems very meagre in comparison to the recent “Mad Max: Fury Road” for example. The characters are strong, Tris is an appealing female action hero – athletic and earnest. Miles Teller is brilliantly cast as the unreliable and smarmy Peter, there to inject some humour and sarcasm. The main problem is that this final book has been split into two separate films and has resulted in an artificially protracted finale. Hardcore fans are unlikely to notice or care about the flaws but I can’t see this film converting any newcomers. Personally, I found it enjoyable, the action sequences keep it moving along at a nice pace, the interaction between the characters is lively and credible and there are many original and imaginative aspects to both the settings and the technology, but then I have always been a fan of the YA genre and it remains to be seen what the box office will think, but I have no doubt in my mind that loyal teens worldwide will come out for it in their droves, regardless of what the critics have to say!