I saw this movie on Friday (which was apparently opening day!) with the decently awesome cousin of mine who goes by Celestia on the Internet. According to my dad, the reviews were (and still are) horrible – one out of many examples he gave me was that only 10% of Rotten Tomatoes reviewers said it was worth seeing. Still, it was something to do besides levelling my World of Warcraft character (ah, but that’s for another post), and I got to have pizza and cheesecake, so I went.
I have to say, I’m not sorry I saw it. It’s not an inherently bad movie. There were some things about it that I would never say were great, but if you’re looking for something to do, here you go.
I’ve heard people say that the story was bad. That’s not wholly true. Maybe the execution wasn’t amazing, but I thought the base storyline itself wasn’t bad. (I’ve heard before that I’m too easy to please to be a reviewer. We’ll see about that.) It’s a pretty cool premise: an isolated, ruined city, divided into five factions that dictate everything from the clothes you wear to the way you spend your leisure time, that, as it transpires (boop boop, spoiler alert!) is actually an experiment set up by a bureau of geneticists that are trying to “breed out” of humanity damaged genes that were put there by the world’s own governments.
While the story wasn’t bad, I thought it was pretty butchered in the movie as opposed to the book. In particular, the characters. Book Tris’s faction aptitude was evenly split among Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the smart). Emphasis on that last one. If, without knowing the story, I had to guess which faction was chosen for her, I’d say that the aptitude test was so fed-up with dealing with Movie Tris’s idiocy that it shut itself down and told her to just go factionless. Seriously. I can think of multiple examples where simple truths had to be shoved in Movie Tris’s face for her to comprehend them. Really, Tris, Tori is dead, screaming her name over and over for five minutes isn’t going to help. No, Tris, Four cannot come with you upstairs. No, you can’t come together. Seriously, why is that difficult to understand? Tris, don’t trust David. Yes, we get that he told you he’s good, but people can lie, Tris. There are a hundred and one reasons not to trust him, but I don’t expect you to be able to understand any of them.
Maybe it was bad acting, maybe it was bad writing, maybe it was just that Shailene Woodley didn’t have the IQ to empathize with an only moderately smart character like Book Tris. That movie could have spared itself from countless critics’ harshness if it had only cast someone different.
Another character whom I think the movies kind of skewed was Peter. I’ve never seen movies one and two, only read the books, so I knew all the characters but not what they looked like in the movies. It wasn’t too hard to distinguish Tris, Four, Caleb, Christina, or even Tori, but Peter, although he looked decently accurate, was so different where personality is concerned that it took me a sizable chunk of the movie to make the connection. Movie Peter was a lot more likable than Book Peter, for one thing. He’s not a guy I can picture executing people for Jeanine or stabbing dudes in the eye for no reason other than that they were stronger than him.
While several of the characters weren’t up to scratch, the pretty 2016 effects were actually quite good. Futuristic dystopian movies like the Hunger Games (which were, by the way, better than the Divergent trilogy) always provide a lot of opportunities for cool space-age effects, and Allegiant didn’t disappoint. Although the storywriters/adapters could’ve gone with a little less pay than they probably got, the special effects teams, at least, seem to have had an adequate budget.
A lot of my movie reviews are based on accuracy to the book they’re based on, so here comes that part of my review. There were a lot of little things the movie changed for the sake of conciseness (like Tori’s death, for instance), and that’s understandable. But the most major difference I and Celestia noticed was the ending.
(WARNING: The upcoming part of the review pertains only to people who have read the book, who are the only people who care if the movie was true to the book, anyway. If you’re reading this review and trying to decide if you ought to see the movie or not, you should probably skip the next couple of paragraphs.)
At the end of the book called Allegiant, instead of shooting up a few pipes to solve the movie’s problems, Tris had to break into the laboratory that was formerly Jeanine Matthews’s to disable the memory serum that was about to wipe the minds of everyone in Chicago. This might’ve been able to go without a hitch if it hadn’t been protected by a lethal dose of death serum. Caleb, Tris’s brother, was ready to sacrifice himself to save Chicago in atonement for his support of Jeanine, but Tris took his place, disabling the flow of the memory serum and effectively killing herself.
There are, from what I can see, a few contributing factors to the directors’ decision to change the ending. One is that they want to get just a little more money out of the Divergent franchise before it’s over, airing the fourth movie, Ascendant (how is that even going to work? The plot has nowhere left to go), and they couldn’t do that if they killed off their protagonist.
Another is that, like at the end of The Giver, they didn’t want to end the movie on a dismal note. People who go to the movies for a good story generally don’t have the same standards as people who go to a book for the same thing: while readers might be looking for a darker, more poignant tale, moviegoers would rather see their triumphant hero defeat his or her adversary without serious personal sacrifice. There are, of course, a few exceptions (I don’t envy whoever had to produce Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), but the Divergent series – the movies, anyway – appeal to a different audience.
Maybe the directors knew that Shailene Woodley was too stupid to even pretend to figure anything out in a lab, so they had her break some stuff instead. Okay, maybe not, but it’s fun to imagine.
Anyway, as a final rating, I’d give Allegiant three out of five stars. It probably could have won back one, maybe two stars if it hadn’t been for the lead actress. It was enjoyable to watch where the story and especially the effects were concerned, but by the time it was over and that rather catchy song came on (I like Tove Lo’s music), I wasn’t sure how much more Shailene Woodley I could take.
Thanks for reading and checking out my blog! If you found this post informative, helpful, or plain enjoyable, I’d like it if you gave it a like and a nice rating. If you didn’t like it, I give you permission to give me a bad rating. (That’s why there are five stars, after all.)
Edit: In addition, I found this hilariously awesome video that gives you a pretty decent idea of what the movie is about. I recommend you check it out.