|Um. Did Tris just become Jeanine??? She looks exactly like her, and is about as relevant as her too -- and Jeanine is dead.|
I actually gave a positive review to Insurgent after seeing it in theaters, and then promptly forgot it existed, which made me rethink that score. Insurgent somehow did a better job assimilating the appearance a decent quality movie while showing us nothing interesting or memorable. Maybe it reminds us of Divergent, which, whatever its flaws, was at least entertaining and a clean, straightforward adaptation of its source material.
But Allegiant strays even further from both the source, and the story's original starting place. It does away with the Factions -- the highlight of interest for the series -- and starts feeding us things about "pure" and "damaged" like that's what the story had been about the whole time. Then it takes us out of the dystopian walls of the crumbled Chicago into an otherworldly orange and red landscape and shiny floating futuristic cities. The only thing that connects this film with Divergent is that middle movie, which I've seen twice now and I still can't remember what the actual heck happened in that film.
|The movie started with the same group on the run who were on the run at the beginning of Insurgent. With a handful changes they could have skipped that movie altogether!|
In that way Allegiant feels even less like a Divergent Series movie, but in straying so far away, it stumbled on something that the last movie lacked in spades: memorability. A handful of things stick out as memorable, and, granted, some are not positive, but giving the movie some unique points made it more enjoyable than expected -- in spite of decidedly worse scripting and acting, and a random plot that goes nowhere. Of course I said Insurgent was memorable too at some point, so maybe a couple days from now I'll have forgotten about this one too. Here are a few reasons why I think I'll remember:
Bad special effects. With recalling the striking red landscape outside the wall comes the image of our heroes (and anti-hero Peter!) floating around in those transport bubbles. That was hilariously, awfully, painfully bad. The futuristic city had cool design elements to it, but most of the time when it was being shown along with characters, green screens and CGI was obvious and cheap. It was weird, like a cool scifi world had been created somewhere, and then all the characters from Divergent jumped over from a different universe and began to populate it, but don't fit there because they're worn out and dry. That feeling was enhanced by the city residents knowing who they are -- like they were movie characters brought into reality.
|This is concept art. Someone obviously worked hard to make this place different and interesting. Then they tried to populate it with dead characters for cheap.|
And like they would in reality, these characters begin to crumble in front of their new backdrop. Like in the book, Tris' character fades away, while Four finds himself the main character in every actually compelling scene. Hardly anyone is trying at this point, but Shailene Woodley isn't even pretending. She stares, she delivers her lines, and she's forgotten. Theo James manages to keep whatever interest he had from before, and could have carried the whole film decently on his own if he had been allowed, but half the movie still focused on stale Tris. Poor Miles Teller yet again makes the most of what he has, and all I can say is congrats dude on surviving these movies with your career intact. I can hardly believe how bad Ansel Elgort is, especially after being so enjoyable and capable in Baby Driver. Every scene Caleb is in is physically painful to watch.
I'm glad I waited until after I saw IT to watch this though, because Bill Skarsgård is in this, and he amused me to no end by making subtle faces in the background that reminded me of Pennywise. And maybe I only noticed because I was paying attention to him, but his character Matthew was a decently interesting character. I know he was in the book, but I swear I don't remember a thing he did, so the mystery of whether he was good or bad worked on me. Plus the bit he's a part of where Four tells him to tell David (Jeff Daniels) that Four left him behind so that Tris would know he was lying and find out the truth -- well, if I forget the rest of the movie I think I'll at least remember that bit.
|Also the bit when he smiles at Tris while disappearing behind elevator doors. Made me laugh.|
I just remembered that there's a whole plotline with a memory-erasing serum. I keep talking about forgetting and remembering, but didn't remember that element until right now. The serum is used for the movie's climax where it works terribly and makes no impression. And when it ends, there's no real conclusion in sight, because the final film has been abandoned. Yep, not even cool art design, rabid fans, or a freaking Skarsgård can save this directionless rust-bucket. Now my spirit is with Peter, jumping around and waving in front of the invisible gate, begging to please please pretty please be let back into the super cool futuristic city -- where characters resemble real people instead of dead horses.