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Allegiant reviews: Here's what critics are saying about The Divergent Series movie

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Dan McFadden

Allegiant, the penultimate film in The Divergent Series, is out in theaters today.

Based on the first half of the final novel in Veronica Roth’s bestselling YA book trilogy, Allegiant follows Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) as they escape the wall around dystopian future-Chicago in hopes of fixing their fractured city. But once outside, they discover some life-changing secrets that alter their perception of the world.

But as Tris and Four’s journey almost reaches its end, fans will wonder whether the second-to-last film in the franchise (to be followed by Ascendant) is a satisfying movie in its own right and whether it properly sets up the last installment. Similar films in the Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games franchises have seen both positive and negative reception, but how does Allegiant stack up against its counterparts?

Allegiant, more so than its two predecessors in the Divergent franchise, is funny,” EW’s Ariana Bacle said in her C review of the film. “Part of this is because it tries to be: There’s Miles Teller playing Peter, a big-headed jerk with a penchant for grade school-style bullying whose pratfalls are often played for laughs. There’s Ansel Elgort’s performance as Caleb, Tris’ clumsy brother. These aren’t the funniest parts, though — the funniest parts come when Allegiant isn’t trying to be.”

For more from Bacle, along with a host of other opinions from critics around the country, read below.

Ariana Bacle (Entertainment Weekly)

“Toward the end, Tris delivers a heavy-handed monologue on the importance of equality that fails to resonate despite Woodley’s charming, gentle performance as a young woman doing her best to save an entire population. It’s a forced injection of topicality that doesn’t inspire the powerful effect it wants to — an apt sentiment for the film as a whole, really. Allegiant aches to be a thought-provoking, moving allegory of the current world. Instead, it’s an unwieldy two hours too unintentionally silly to validate how seriously it takes itself.”

Scott Tobias (NPR)

“Of the cast, only Teller appears to be having any fun, jesting his way through world-changing crises like a Jeff Goldblum character. The rest of Allegiant, like its predecessors, is handled with deadly seriousness, which has never served a science-fiction universe that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Allegiant may tidy up the ornate logic of the Divergent series, but a clearer understanding of the faction system and its roots is not necessarily a more compelling one. “

Jeannette Catsoulis (The New York Times)

“Ms. Woodley, previously such a strong anchor for a series that’s casually dominated by powerful female characters, feels disengaged here and a little tired. And a sidelined Octavia Spencer, playing the leader of the former peace-loving Amity faction — now reborn as a resistance group known as Allegiant — appears similarly detached.”

Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)

“Director Robert Schwentke manages one solid action scene, involving wall-scaling and rappelling. The rest of the time we’re either stuck in a reddish toxic ooze, signifying various EPA violations, or else we’re in Providence, where all is clean and shiny and very Logan’s Run-ny.”

Peter Debruge (Variety)

“Although Allegiant does recapture the original film’s sense of constantly discovering and adapting to fresh information, audiences no longer identify with anyone in particular. For those who thrilled at the idea that she was somehow special, Tris has been pushed aside, while Four goes out on dangerous missions to ‘the Fringe,’ visiting tent cities where David abducts children for purposes the movie never satisfyingly explains.”

Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times)

As directed by Schwentke, who did the more involving Insurgent but won’t be returning for the final film, Allegiant has its share of brisk action and high-tech gizmos like drones that obey finger commands. But because the series’ plot reveal turns out to be more confusing than compelling, and because turning a novel into two films invariably leads to inflated productions, only the most devoted fans of the book will pledge allegiance to what’s on the screen.”

Bilge Ebiri (The Village Voice)

“But Allegiant confuses and bores with endless scenes of David and others explaining things: how the world got to be this way, how it is now, how it needs to be, and so on and so forth. The film at times feels like wall-to-wall exposition — some of it lies, some of it true, all of it awkward. David also needs Tris to testify before some sort of Council, to whom he answers, so that much of the film is building up to… yes, more exposition.”

Tom Russo, (Boston Globe)

“Returning director Robert Schwentke does manage to nail a few early sequences. Acting on Tris’s Insurgent discovery that an advanced, benevolent society has been monitoring her people from beyond the city’s massive containment wall, she, Four, and friends (terrifically snarky Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, etc.) break Evelyn’s cordon. Their getaway is intensely shot, all disorienting rappelling shots and pyrotechnics. The scene on the other side of the wall is vividly rendered, too — a quasi-Venusian expanse of toxic yellow-red bleccch that strikingly complements the trashed-urban production design of the first two movies.”

Bill Zwecker (Chicago Sun-Times)

“I spent a lot of the time watching the third film in the Divergent series thinking, ‘Huh?’ There were so many holes in the storyline, plus inconsistencies — both from author Veronica Roth’s original underlying material, and from where we left off in the last film — that I was both confused and deeply disappointed by this very unsatisfying movie.”

Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter)

“At best, what Schwentke and his skilled craft team have done is set up the major confrontation of the last chapter, providing one or two action highlights along the way — most notably an early scene where Tris and co. scale the wall surrounding Chicago like a band of alpinists from the future. Otherwise, for a film that takes great pride in its heroine’s nonconformism, pretty much everything in Allegiant feels conventional.”

Michael O’Sullivan (The Washington Post)

“Otherwise, everything is needlessly tangled and bewildering. A scene in the book in which Tris reads her late mother’s journals is recreated here with ‘memory tabs’ via a virtual-reality headset that, like magical earbuds, allows Tris to witness her mom’s life as a kid. The bells and whistles are simply too much, too often, and detract from our connection to the characters.”

Overall Metacritic rating: 34

Rotten Tomatoes percent: 10 percent

Rated: PG-13

Length: 121 minutes

Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Distributor: Summit Entertainment

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