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REVIEW: A Stronger Adaptation for ‘Allegiant’

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Photo: Denofgeek.com

Allegiant, the third movie based on the popular Divergent series, picks up shortly after the last movie. Like its chief rival, The Hunger Games, this series is also set in a dystopian universe (a future Chicago). The heroine, Tris (Shailene Woodley), plots with her supportive and square-jawed boyfriend Four (Theo James), to free everyone from the manipulation and corruption of the system. 

The people had been divided into five factions: Abnegation, Erudite, Amity, Dauntless, Candor, with the name reflecting the predominant personality trait. The last movie ended with a bombshell, as the folks in the factions discover there are survivors outside of their city. Tris, Four, and their friends find themselves in a new place, with David (Jeff Daniels) as the director of the mysterious organization and Matthew, (Bill Skarsgård, one of Alex’s younger brothers) serving as the liaison to Tris and the others.

One interesting aspect of the Allegiant series is that a person is born into one faction, but can choose to leave it on their 16th birthday. This film digs a bit deeper into the science about an individual's preference for a particular faction, and asks age-old questions about nature vs. nurture. The challenge with this movie is that because Tris is brought into a new environment, some of the qualities that make her an interesting heroine get ignored. Woodley is a great actress – but this movie ties her hands a bit. Skarsgard, who starred in Netflix gothic series Hemlock Grove, is a great addition to the cast – and not just because he met the height requirement (seriously, all the men are six feet or taller). He brings subtle layers to a supporting role.

Perhaps the filmmakers decided to embrace Miles Teller’s ability to steal every scene he’s in. His role as the smarmy Peter provides welcome comic relief, and is a nice balance to James’ constant brooding. To be fair, James does excel in his action sequences. Rounding out the cast are Zoe Kravitz and Ansel Elgort, who return in their roles as Christina, and Caleb, respectively.

The Allegiant series tends to spend a lot of time on world building, but the pacing of this movie is better than its predecessors. The special effects are a bit inconsistent – some things looked spectacular, and others, more like a TV show.

The adaptations of author Veronica Roth’s novels haven’t always gone well, but perhaps the filmmakers learned from the previous efforts, and were able to simplify and focus the story. As a result, they deliver an entertaining chapter to the series.

Allegiant is pretty violent (it’s rated PG-13), and features some strategically shot partial nudity. However, the love scenes remain chaste and brief. 

 

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com 

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Photo: Denofgeek.com