The third film in the Divergent Series has just arrived on home video and no, it has nothing to do with calculus I'm happy to report. Following the further adventures of plucky Tris and her hunky boyfriend Four in a post-apocalyptic world, The Divergent Series: Allegiant is based on the last book in the young adult trilogy penned by Veronica Roth. As with other teen book series that have been brought to the screen (Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games) the producers decided to break the final book into two movies, so this is only the first part of the conclusion. I enjoyed the first film (The Divergent Series) and thought the second one (The Divergent Series: Insurgent) was flawed but okay. Unfortunately this third movie continues the downward trend and is the weakest in the series so far.
Note: I will not give away any major spoilers to this film, but the earlier two movies will be referenced and I'll assume you've seen them. If you'd rather not have the ending to the previous film ruined for you, skip down to the technical part of the review.
Starting up shortly after the last film ends, we find that although Tris Tris (Shailene Woodley) was able to unlock the mysterious box things didn't change all that much. The box revealed to all of the inhabitants of Chicago that there WAS life beyond the wall encircling their city (reportedly, there was a single eight-year-old girl in Spain who was surprised by that revelation), and that they should leave. Evelyn (Naomi Watts) the new leader of the city (and the mother of Tris' boyfriend, Four (Theo James)) orders the gates closed and starts treason trails for the members of the old regime. Tris and Four remain on the sidelines, not wanting to take part in the brutality, but once they learn that Tris' brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort) who watched as Tris was being tortured is slated to stand trial and be executed, they hatch a plan to free him and escape. (When asked why she was doing it, Tris just states "that's what you do for family."
With the help of some of their old Dauntless compadres, the take off for the wall, and on the way they encounter Peter, one of the antagonists from the earlier movies. Stopping in the heat of a rapid escape, Four and Peter have an exchange that goes loosely like this:
Peter: Dudes! Are you trying to sneak over the wall? Totally take me with you.
Four: Ummm, aren't you the guy who nearly killed my girlfriend in the first movie?
Peter: Oh yeah, that was awesome.
Four: And then betrayed us both in the second film?
Peter: Yep, that would be me.
Four: Are you going to turn on us again?
Peter: Bro, I totally will if I get the chance!
Four: You are such a kidder. I love this guy! Hop in!
On the other side of the wall they discover that there is life and an advanced civilization run by a man named David (Jeff Daniels). He's very proud of the small group that escaped Chicago, and especially the Divergent one, Tris. While David wines-and-dines Tris, explaining how she can aid him in rebuilding the world, the others find out that maybe this new city isn't as great as it seems. While the first film, and to some degree the second, presented a new and interesting culture and examined how people lived there, this third film decided to bring out all of the clichés that have inhabited SF for the past 50 years. I was originally planning on tracking down an earlier movie or book that had the exact same plot points and twists, but I ultimately decided that it wasn't worth the effort. Suffice to say that if you've seen a few movies you'll see every revelation coming from miles away. The movie also moved slowly, especially for a teen-action film. There was a lot of dialog that was dull and dragging, especially when Tris and David are talking. It seemed like it would never end.
There are multiple plot holes and just silly events that really serve to pull the viewer out of the movie: If David really only wanted Tris, why did the message she unlocked automatically open the doors are broadcast to everyone in the city that they could leave? The test that Tris had to pass in the second movie makes no sense once they reveal what they were testing for. The origins of the disaster that left Earth in ruins makes less and less sense the more one thinks about it. And the biggest mistake is that the fact that Chicago was walled off and set up with the various factions is counterproductive to the results that the originators were hoping to achieve. It's more hand-waving than a real explanation.
Maybe the fact that all three films in the series so have had totally different writing teams, or maybe it was the fault of the source material, but there plot was really worn and tired.
That's not to say that the movie is worthless. If you've seen the first two, give the disc a spin. The main actors all do a good job, especially Shailene Woodley and there wasn't any time during the run that I wanted to give up on the film. I was happy that I got to see the next chapter in Tris and Four's lives... I just wish that the script was more polished and thought out.
The Ultra HD Disc:
As with other 4K releases, this set arrives with the Ultra HD disc as well as a Blu-ray. Unlike the second film, this one was not released in 3D, so there isn't a 3D version available.
The 2160p 2.40:1 image looks good, but almost too good. The shots of Chicago where there are few special effects are clean and crisp, but there are a lot of CGI-heavy shots (such as all the talking that takes place in David's office) don't feel natural. They have a 'processed' feel to them and the live action parts don't mesh with the effects as seamlessly as they should. This won't bother everyone, people I watched this with were not bothered by it, but some of the scenes do have a 'standing in front of a rear projection' feel to them. Aside from that, which I'll admit is a minor complaint, the level of detail and colors looked great.
The disc comes with a Dolby Atmos mix and a 7.1 core for those who haven't upgraded to have ceiling speakers yet. The audio was very good, with the action scenes being most impressive. The mix really filled the room with sound but there were plenty of individual sounds coming from discrete parts of the room. The subwoofer got a real workout too, with a lot of rumbling effect that really worked well. A good sounding movie.
There are no extras on the 4K disc, all of the bonus items are found on the BR disc. The first is an audio commentary with producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher. I would have preferred to have the actors or directors talking about the film, but this is better than nothing. As is the fashion today, instead of a single 'making-of' feature they've split the rest of the extras into several short looks at different aspects of the film. These include:
Battle in the Bullfrog - a four-minute look at one of the sets.
Allegiant: Book to Film - a short (less than five minutes) discussion on making the book into two movies.
Finding the Future: Effects & Technology - a 10-minute examination of some of the effects and props.
Characters in Conflict - a look at the conflicts between characters in the film you've presumably just seen.
The Next Chapter: Cast & Characters - brief interviews with the cast
Building The Bureau - a look at making the city on the other side of the wall.
While the first movie in this series was good and the second one okay, this third installment was filled with too many clichés and telegraphed plot twists. I could never really get into the film, asking myself "why are you doing that?!?" more than getting emotionally involved with the characters. If you liked the first two in the series, it wouldn't be bad to check this one out, but make it a rental.