THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT (Entertainment One)
Dir. Robert Schwentke, Script. Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Stephen Chbosky
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James
Plot: Tris (Woodley) and her fellow Divergent continue to unravel the state of their world, as the city of Chicago plunges into chaos.
It’s commonly accepted now that, in a Hollywood currently fuelled by the continuation of derivative and unoriginal franchises, the grand-daddy plagiarist of them all is the Divergent series. In case you’ve got no idea what it is (and you might not, seeing as its box office returns don’t scream of a hugely successful property), then it’s an inferior version of the Hunger Games franchise, designed for people who have somehow never heard of the Hunger Games franchise. And it’s third instalment, which is of course adapting the first half of the final book in the Veronica Roth novels that inspired this dirge, goes where the first two films simply couldn’t go – to a place of complete nothingness.
Now I admit this might just be me losing my head, but when The Aldi Hunger Games: Irrelevant had finished and I’d got home, I had to look up the plot because I’d forgotten it. And when Wikipedia didn’t have the plot, I assumed that the collective people’s Earth had done so too. The fact of the matter is, I’m finding it very difficult to think of something in the film to comment on, for good or for bad. I remember when I trashed The 5th Wave, an attempted YA franchise start up, a couple of months ago – but that was because the film was genuinely done badly, and it was just another symptom of a YA plague that should have subsided back in 2014.
I can’t really level that opinion at Allegiant, because its production values are fine, but what I can say (finally, my memories come flooding back) is that director Robert Schwentke was unable to capture it in any way, shape or form. The director of any film should give it a consistent tone, and while Schwentke’s direction is consistent, he fails to provide a tone. His camerawork alone seems to confirm that Schwentke, returning for his second film as the franchise’s helmsman, was as tired as I was. The only thing that looks remotely solid is the film’s production design, which I would have commended if not for the fact that the radiation-scorched deserts outside of Chicago are taken straight from Mad Max: Fury Road.
The all-encompassing nothingness of Allegiant also extends to its surprisingly solid cast, who are wasted here: Shailene Woodley, a young actress who has proved herself capable in The Fault In Our Stars, has been reduced to a shell of a human being (although she’s still probably the film’s most interesting character), and her character has suddenly become dumb as a post – she’s totally wasted by trusting David (Jeff Daniels, who has nothing to work with here), a man who is so obviously evil he enters by coming down a spiral staircase. Woodley’s eye candy boyfriend Four (a robotic name befitting a robotic character) is left to drive the story forward, and although Theo James is making an effort, he is weighed down by a script with the nimbleness of an anvil.
There are four builders of this anvil, all of which have been named-and-shamed above, and they have together written what is undoubtedly the worst screenplay of the year. The dialogue is completely wooden, as are the film’s many ‘characters’. It’s as if the entire thing was written in a world where personality and character development do not exist. One of it’s writers was the man who wrote The Maze Runner, an equally uninspired YA film, but at least in that film there were mildly believable human beings – here there are none. It’s ironic then to consider that this film reveals that humans have been genetically modified to the point where none of them are ‘pure’ (in a long-overdue piece of plagiarism from the Harry Potter movies) – apparently the human race in The Divergent Series: Redundant are damaged to the point where everything of interest has died.