Allegiant Is the Same Story Told Over and Over
Allegiant: “PG-13” (106 min.)
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Jeff Daniels
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
The Divergent Film Series
With Allegiant, we now have reached the third (and perhaps final) installment of the Divergent film series that is based upon Veronica Roth’s best-selling YA novel series of a futuristic dystopian society that is set in Chicago. After the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris (Woodley) determines that she and the others — Four (James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), and a handful of friends — must escape the city by venturing beyond the wall. Once outside, they see what a couple hundred years of devastation and radiation have done to the land outside the wall that surrounds Chicago. The shocking revelation of what the world looks like brings on new truths. As they venture further into the wasteland surrounding the city Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust as a ruthless battle ignites inside the walls of Chicago which threatens all of humanity.
The story itself picks up shortly after the conclusion of the previous film. Now that Jeanine is dead, Four’s mom, Evelyn (Watts) has assumed control of Chicago and is placing everyone who was formerly in Erudite that worked for Jeanine on trial, and then executing them, so, in order to survive, Tris and her friends are forced to make impossible choices regarding courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love, at least that is the premise of the story. Now while we did rather enjoy the sci-fi and spectacle of the film — to be honest — we do continue to find the story, well, shallow and lacking in internal logic.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant Official Trailer – “The Truth Lies Beyond”
What Happens (Such That it is)
Here is what we mean, Tris and her friends make their break from the city by scaling the wall and heading out into what can only be described as a (slightly) radioactive, Mars-like wasteland (for reasons that are never actually explained, the landscape is not only totally baron but entirely red). Anyway Tris and her friends manage to stay one step ahead of those chasing them (although why they chased her is beyond us, if they were only going to bring them back to execute them and, well, life in the badlands was all but a death sentence in the first place, just let them wander for 40 years and, then, you know die). Still, they wind up discovering yet another entire community that appears to be technologically more advanced than the one they left behind. Now this second colony knows about the first and is apparently conducting some sort of genetic experiment in Chi-Town (of which Tris is the only genetically pure specimen). Needless to say, the nominal leader of this new colony Dave (Daniels) is (no surprise) not quite who he seems to be, not are the inhabitants of Providence — yet another hi-tech colony that is living well while Chicago and its inhabitants have been in ruins for the past 200 years — nice guys, eh?
Symbolism is Rampant
When they do arrive at the new (better-equipped, more hi-tech) colony, Tris and her friends are disinfected, and given clean clothes. For whatever reason, (and we’re not sure if this has any deeper meaning) at first they are all given white garments upon arrival. Then in virtually the next scene (with little if any time to change, and apparently no privacy in which to do so, everyone is in military black, save for Tris, who stays in white. Then when she is transported to Providence she changes from slacks to a (again white) dress. Upon returning to Dave’s city, she is once again in slacks, only this time while her top is still white, her pants are tan. Now we wouldn’t usually comment so much on the clothing worn by characters in a film, but as virtually everyone else is wearing black (save for the soldiers who don camo-red to round up those living in the wasteland, and Dave and the council) we can only assume that Tris’ clothing has some deeper or hidden 9at least from us) meaning.
Beyond the City's Wall
Same Story, Told Differently
Anyways, things go south pretty fast and well Tris and her crew finally get patched into what is happening and head back to Chicago to, well, that would be telling. Needless to say, we came of age ourselves reading YA Sci-Fi, and well, while it makes sound like the old fart that we probably are, those stories were truly much better than these. To us, many of these stories (Divergent, Hunger Games, The Host, The Fifth Wave, Maze Runner, The Giver) all seem like the essentially the same story, they are not so much science fiction, as they are social justice stories that are simply set in the not so distant future so as to remove them from having real impact on actual, present-day issues. The science is suspect, the plots are weak, and (as stated) the stories all seem the same. We grew up reading Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and sad to say, none of these stories can really hold a candle to those masters.
How to Build a Better Story
Our suggestion to Hollywood, is that if you really want to make an awesome film, look to the old masters. You’ll find greener pastures and richer material.