Allegiant (2016)

Allegiant does something truly unimaginable:  it offers a more or less plausible explanation for the Faction system in the Divergent series.

Of course, on the downside of that, it is part one of an adaptation of the final novel of the YA series, with a final film yet to come.  Sigh.  Okay, okay.  You had to do it with Harry Potter.  I mean, that last book weighed almost as much as a new Harley.  But someone should tell Hollywood that they don’t have to do it for every YA series they adapt.

And yet, I should point out that at least this film has a certain narrative completeness about it:  it feels like an independent story and not just part one of two.  You can’t say that about, say, Mockingjay one and two.  Or, for that matter, about Insurgent, the last film in the series. In the bonus features, the film’s producers openly admit that they changed the book to ensure that this was an independent story and not just pieces of one.

That’s a real plus.

It also makes the film an improvement over Insurgent (although I’ll note that other critics have seen Allegiant as a new low for the series).  Certainly it is a nice change not to have yet another special effects extravaganza which is meant somehow or other to be a test of the various factional characteristics.  One suspects that they probably had long executive meetings to decide what elements should be in each test, but the end results were murky and confusing.

Another plus here is that this film looks radically different from the past films in the series, as it spends most of its running time beyond the wall, in the futuristic world of those running the genetic experiment that is the post-apocalyptic Chicago.  Although, I do have to admit I’m always a sucker for SF hardware, whether wild futuristic buildings, camo drones or flying vehicles.  There is a nice Wizard of Oz man-behind-the-curtain moment when we finally see what’s really out there in the wasteland (which was apparently invented by the filmmakers).

All in all, it’s a nice but minor piece of popcorn filmmaking which, while it is no great classic, is at least moderately entertaining.

And the story is complete enough that, if the planned fourth film, Ascendant, never makes it to the theaters (or, from the sound of it, perhaps not even the small screen), then you’re not going to feel cheated.  After all, they managed to wrap it up at a point where we could say (and, I’ll admit, with a sigh of relief), it’s over.

Which doesn’t mean that they won’t try to foist that 13-part series on us.

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