Thursday 17 March 2016

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

"People think walls separate us, but they also protect us."

‘The Hunger Games’ are over, so why are we still making movies about teens being put into separate districts in a dystopian world where they will become embroiled in a battle to overthrow their tyrannical government only to be told that the world they live in is a lie and then venture out into the unknown wilderness, all leading up to a final instalment that will ultimately be divided into two parts anyway? It’s a question I asked myself many times during this film.

After the revelations of ‘Insurgent’, Tris (Shailene Woodley) must escape with Four (Theo James) and go beyond the walls surrounding Chicago and into District 13 … wait hold on…. Once on the other side they must quickly decide who they can trust as ruthless battles ignite and Tris will be forced to make an impossible decision.

Remember when trilogies used to be in three parts? It didn’t go ‘Return of the Jedi: Part 1’ or ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly: Part 1’ or ‘The Godfather Part 3: Part 1’ My point is that many years ago people did not split their last instalments into two parts, this has rapidly become my least favourite trend of modern cinema. Mainly because books are divided into those sections for a reason, so that even if it is merely one part of a larger story, it still features a beginning, middle and end.

I know I’m going on about this, but trilogies are supposed to be three chapters. Dear Hollywood, stop doing trilogies of four. This was a joke in ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ in that the series was sold as a ‘trilogy of five’. But now the joke has become a reality and it seems impossible to get an adaptation of a single book that remains a single film. When films divide their source material into more sections than necessary the pacing is thrown off as is the character development and general tone. Look what happened to ‘Mockingjay’, a disappointingly weak finale that can’t even be enjoyed as one four hour movie because every scene is stretched to justify the added runtime and the result is a film so convoluted and meaningless that it just annoys you.

Now imagine ‘Mockingjay’ but instead of containing anything remotely eventful or original, just replace it with plots from every other YA story on sale and then you have ‘Allegiant’. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the ‘Divergent Series’, ‘The Maze Runner’ and ‘The 5th Wave’. They all just seem to bleed into one entity of a teenager, overthrowing some higher form of government, a love triangle, some wilderness survival and then the obligatory cliff hanger ending to set up the sequel. They are all just tiresome, predictable and (for me at least) horrifically annoying.

Franchise building is something we have seen for many years, but at the very least put some effort into it. Do something creative, make an interesting story and develop some unique characters. Don’t just pander to your audience, establish the same clichés as every other film of the genre, base your characters on the blandest possible template to make it easier for audiences to project themselves onto them (seriously, describe Tris without using the word ‘determined’, you can’t can you) or just assemble a needlessly convoluted plot from which you can set up multiple sequels that by this point no one is asking for anyway.

I admit this has turned more into a rant on the genre than a review of this specific film but what do you want me to say? I can say that the characters are about as shallow as they come, the run time is devoted to drawing out the plot through mediocre action scenes as sub-par special effects rather than any drama or development. The plot is needlessly complicated, and repetitive (they wander to a base filled with people, ask questions and then leave, and repeat for 2 hours) most of the dialogue is centred on exposition (you would think that by the second sequel we would be adverse enough within the mythology of this world that we could simply devote the runtime to something else, but no). As well as plenty of shots of Theo James’ torso, because credit where credit’s due, they know what their audience want.

Maybe it's just me finally reaching my absolute limit with these movies, but I just don't care anymore. The film itself is not terrible but I've used up what little sympathy and patience I had with the series. Also if you want to make an awful, predictable film then fine, but don't drag Jeff Daniels into it as well. 
Tedious, melodramatic and the very definition of generic. We still have to get through another one of these.

Result: 3/10

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