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Film review – The Divergent Series: Allegiant doesn’t scale any great heights

It’s Hollywood’s lone young-adult franchise, but a plodding script and scant charisma or character development in latest film based on The Divergent trilogy has left a lot of ground for final episode to make up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2016, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2016, 4:09pm

The Hunger Games and Twilight are no more. Ender’s Game, The Host and The 5th Wave never really took off. That leaves the Divergent franchise flying Hollywood’s Young Adult flag – which looks to be at half-mast, judging by this latest adaptation based on Veronica Roth’s best-selling trilogy. Allegiant, taken from the first half of Roth’s final book of the same name, is an underwhelming encounter that feels as drab as the ruinous, walled-off Chicago setting of the preceding films.

“Miracle” heroine Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) concluded the last movie, Insurgent, set in a society divided into four factions, by discovering this segregation was all part of a social experiment. Now it’s time to escape beyond the confines of the electrified battlements, along with love interest Four (Theo James), sibling Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and comrades-in-arms Peter (Miles Teller) and Christina (Zoë Kravitz).

As it turns out, scaling that wall is about the most exciting thing they manage in two hours of tedium. On the other side is a toxic wasteland that rains blood and, behind an invisible wall, the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, run by Jeff Daniels’ mildly creepy David (we know this because he buttons his collar up to the top, without a tie).

Returning director Robert Schwentke has fun, aesthetically, with a rainbow palette (including memorable plumes of orange gas). But Allegiant, rather like its characters, suffers from a serious lack of charisma.

The pacing is plodding, the political undertones amorphous and the character development non-existent, with the actors left with precious little to feed off. How many times, for example, do we need to see Teller’s Peter selfishly betray his brethren? The visual effects occasionally impress – but that should be a given for a blockbuster. Next year’s final episode, Ascendant, will need to work much harder to win fans back.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant opens on March 10

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