Thursday, June 8, 2023

‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ riddled with problematic science, rushed scenes


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By Kristina Kincer // Contributing Writer

The long-awaited answer as to what lies over the wall in The Divergent Series is finally answered, but at great cost to entertainment. The latest installment of the series, Allegiant, is the third of the four-part film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s post-apocalyptic dystopian books. This film repeats the previous movies’ cycle of awkward romance, rushed action, difficult justifications and incomplete explanations.

In the last installment, Jeanine Mathews is forced from her position of power by Evelyn, later murdered, and a new leadership takes her place. In an uncertain amount of time, the factions are now in disarray, and Tris (Shailene Woodley) can only think about the message left behind by the predecessors: Four (Theo James), Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), her best friend Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and the continuously unapologetic Peter (Miles Teller) all follow her lead into going over the wall. What they find is an unrealistic futuristic civilization that has its own threats and uncertainties.

So what is over the wall? If I had to describe it, I would say that it is a paradox wrapped up in a quipped epigram dialogue shaded a bright red. If you were hoping for a convincing explanation with some grounding in reality, then you will be sadly disappointed. The America of the past apparently was involved in a genetic experiment leaving large amount of people “damaged.” No explanation is ever given and things quickly move along, leaving only a “huh” moment in its wake.

Of course, you can’t have an apocalyptic war without an evil empire, only known as “The Bureau,” and they have even more inexplicable technology. It was a whole-sale on all sci-fi geek paraphernalia from flying elevators to surveillance equipment that would make the current airport x-ray machines blush in embarrassment. The world is a red radioactive wasteland and yet technology somehow services and even thrives. The Bureau in charge of the remaining population are now accredited with creating the pure ‘Divergent’ race all without a single doctor or scientist present to explain how they pulled off that magic trick.

Tris and her band of rebels are saving Chicago’s population from a totalitarian leadership, again. Just in case anyone was missing Jeanine, her male substitute, David (Jeff Daniels) fills in for the role as the omnipresent force for Tris to butt-heads with. Four’s role is in all this is to keep the conversation going with his one-liners and a stoic presence. Christina and Caleb are left with little to do in this new world but play supporting roles for when Tris needs them to teach her how to use the technologically that shouldn’t exist, and Peter has stayed true to form. He continues to be self-serving, also holding a dual role as comic relief with his sarcastic repertoire, but the humor does little to overshadow his continuous need to play the callous social riser.

The technology in this movie is the stuff of dreams that only a mad scientist could come up with. No interpretations of a futuristic world can be complete without the unexplainable gadgets that were used so casually throughout this movie. The Providence, the city where the Bureau calls home, has characteristics of another advanced world Aeon Flux herself would find familiar with its floating airship that circle the city.

Though it tries to be thought-provoking with its implied censure of American social class identification, it fails to have the intended impact. It’s filled with rushed scenes of explanations, weak justifications as to why people are the way they are, all glossed over with quips of dialogue and hurried action scenes. The unspoken disclaimer of “no science was harmed in the making of this movie” is evident with no real explanations as to how this world of technology works: It just does.

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