Re­view: Lat­est ‘Di­ver­gent’ film takes it­self too se­ri­ously

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Contents - By Lind­sey Bahr AP Film Writer

CALL me In­dif­fer­ent.

In “Al­le­giant,” the lat­est in­stall­ment of “The Di­ver­gent Se­ries” (three out of four), dystopian Chicago might be in dis­ar­ray, but it’s also be­come as dull as our hero­ine Tris’ shape­less, grey Ab­ne­ga­tion frocks from the first pic. Un­less the film­mak­ers re­ally try to shake things up for the next and fi­nal film, this se­ries might just end up be­ing as for­get­table as those duds, too.

And re­ally, this is where things should start get­ting in­ter­est­ing and ur­gent. The fac­tion sys­tem fell in the last one, “In­sur­gent,” also di­rected by Robert Sch­wen­tke, and with it all of those sense­less names — Ab­ne­ga­tion, Can­dor, Daunt­less, etc. Now they’re try­ing to start a new so­ci­ety, but, it turns out Eve­lyn (Naomi Watts) and her band of punk rock fac­tion­less

rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies didn’t ex­actly have a the­ory of governance in place when they de­cided to storm Chicago.

So, she be­gins with prob­a­bly the worst pos­si­ble de­ci­sion — killing off many of those who were loyal to the fallen leader Jea­nine (who was played by Kate Winslet). This leads to a rift with Oc­tavia Spencer’s Jo­hanna, and they go to war.

But that’s all a side show to the ex­ploits of Shai­lene Wood­ley’s Tris and Theo James’ Four who de­cide to es­cape the city along with a few oth­ers (Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Mag­gie Q, and Ansel El­gort). In the last movie, Tris learned that there was life out­side of the walls and they re­solve to find out what that means with all the ca­su­al­ness of a cou­ple of ur­ban­ites de­cid­ing to try out that new brunch spot two neigh­bor­hoods over.

What is out there, lo­cated at the re­mains of Chicago’s O’Hare air­port (which is only about 15 miles away from the city, by the way), is a head­quar­ters run by a man named David (Jeff Daniels). He likes Tris be­cause she’s ge­net­i­cally “pure,” while every­one else in the Chicago ex­per­i­ment is “dam­aged” and he wants to show her off to some other com­mit­tee in Prov­i­dence to prove that the sys­tem can work.

And it’s here where things might start to feel a lit­tle jum­bled for any­one who has en­gaged with the mod­ern sci-fi dystopias of the past few years. The O’Hare out­post looks like “Obliv­ion,” their ge­netic per­fec­tion goals sound like “The Giver” meets “Gat­taca,” the Rus­sian doll world feels like “The Maze Run­ner” and the hero­ine like a less lively ver­sion of “The Hunger Games’” Kat­niss.

But un­like Kat­niss, who wore her trauma and moral con­fu­sion and ap­pre­hen­sion on her face, Wood­ley’s Tris just plays it cool and af­fect­less. She’s never ruf­fled by any­thing and we’re never riled up on her be­half. Four, too, just pouts and broods his way through the film, which has be­come the de facto mode for YA heart­throbs ever since Ed­ward skulked his way into that “Twi­light” cafe­te­ria.

It’s not com­pletely the fault of the ac­tors — the story takes it­self so, so se­ri­ously that even Miles Teller’s min­i­mally amus­ing snarky asides feel like trea­sures in this leaden dud just be­cause he gives some life to them. And while Spencer and Watts seem to have the more in­ter­est­ing plot, you’re al­most grate­ful that their time on screen is kept to a min­i­mum.

If you can learn any­thing about sto­ry­telling from “The Hunger Games” and “Di­ver­gent,” it’s that part one of a two-part fi­nale is gen­er­ally pretty dis­pos­able — a first act stretched out to fea­ture length. As long as these se­ries con­tinue to break up sin­gle sto­ries into un­nec­es­sary two-part fi­nales, they might ben­e­fit from tak­ing a cue from tele­vi­sion and mak­ing the penul­ti­mate in­stall­ment the one you can’t miss, the one where ev­ery­thing goes hay­wire.

In­stead, it’s some­thing to be tol­er­ated and en­dured while we wait for an ac­tual story to close out the se­ries.

Next, please. One star out of four.


This im­age re­leased by Lionsgate shows (from left) Zoe Kravitz, Shai­lene Wood­ley, Theo James, Ansel El­gort, Mag­gie Q and Miles Teller in a scene from “The Di­ver­gent Se­ries: Al­le­giant.”

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