Thursday, March 24, 2016
The Divergent Series: Allegiant 
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RogerEbert.com (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review
The Divergent Series: Allegiant  (directed by Robert Schwentke screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, based on the first half of the novel [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Veronica Roth [wikip] [GR] [IMDb]) is the third cinematic installment (of four) of the Post-Apocalyptic "Hunger Games-like" teen-oriented Divergent Trilogy. It follows the release of Divergent  and The Divergent Series: Insurgent  and before the promised release of the finale The Divergent Series: Ascendant  next year.
The film illustrates some of the problems (from the POV of the Reader/Viewer) of a film franchise based on a book series model: One of the things that I've really liked about movies (as opposed to books or TV series) has been that no matter what they're about "after 2-3 hours one's done." If one wants to write a review or reflection on the film viewed that could take another couple of hours. However, and in any case, one could complete the task of seeing/reviewing the film rather quickly and be able to move on to something else.
In the case of a TV series (or a film series based on a book series) while certainly benefiting the makers of such materials (because the project becomes "an extended" rather than "a one-off gig"), the viewer is roped-in for an extended commitment. And the RE-viewer's job is made even harder because he/she can't really render final judgement on the whole project until the series' end.
And this can become a problem, as it begins to become here, as this third episode in this four part series begins to enter somewhat problematically into the realm of "religious allegory" and perhaps more negatively than the Viewer / Reader of the book series would have initially expected or imagined.
The second episode of this series (about a quite rigidly organized society in a mysteriously sealed off-post apocalyptic Chicago) ended with the society's "Factionless" misfits (those could not find a place among any of the society's five officially recognized castes or Factions) had successfully overthrown that old Order.
What now? Well inevitably some of the younger members of that society, led by the series' heroine Tris (played by Shailene Woodley) and her SO named Four (played by Theo James) wanted to breakdown (or at least "break past") the last remaining Wall in this society - the one isolating their city from the rest of the world beyond.
When they day do "break past" said wall, they initially find a poisoned post-apocalyptic wasteland. So their teachers / elders were apparently at least partly telling them the truth as it becomes crystal clear that their society had been born out of / in response to some awful catastrophe.
But as they go further out into this poisoned desert (somewhat amusingly, for a Chicagoan anyway ... out to the remains of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport ;-), they encounter something new - an outpost of a society technologically far more advanced than theirs that has actually been monitoring the happenings / progress OF THE EXPERIMENT that this more advanced society had made OUT OF THE REMAINS OF CHICAGO.
Now going into detail as to what kind of experiment this more advanced society was conducting in (sealed off) Chicago certainly gets into SPOILER TERRITORY but it's sufficient to say that many of the problems that Tris / Four had known "back in Chicago" also existed in the larger world and had brought that larger world to ruin. Indeed, THE HOPE of "The Chicago Experiment" was to prove with "a relatively small controlled sample" (like one conducted in a sealed off city) that _over time_ the problems existent in the society could "breed themselves out"
What kind of problems could breed themselves out? Well obviously genetic problems...
We're told by The Chicago Experiment's (current) "God like" / dispassionate Supervisor named David (played by Jeff Daniels) -- Reader's note the Biblical name -- that at some point in the 21st Century scientists began to genetically enhance humans so that they could perform their functions better -- make them braver, so that they could become super soldiers; make them smarter, so that they could becomes super-scientist; make them more insightful / honest, so that they could become super-judges and super law-makers; make them more self-less / caring, so that they could become super social workers; make them just simply more optimistic, so that they could become super-workers.
ALL these castes actually existed in that post-Apocalyptic Chicago. HOWEVER, it turns out that the experiment was to see if these "enhancements" would "breed themselves out of the society" over time. AND OF COURSE, IF ANYTHING, THE SOCIETY IN CHICAGO HAD ORGANIZED ITSELF TO RIGIDLY PRESERVE THESE ENHANCEMENTS ... until, of course, now.
So Tris / Four as well as a couple of their other "friends" / characters in the story -- notably Peter (played by Miles Teller), note again the New Testament name, who's actually been (quite unfortunately) "a Snake" throughout the story ... -- come quite traumatized to that Base out there on the remains of O'Hare Airport. There they encounter the "God-like" / dispassionate David and his generally "all clothed in white" (lab-coats...) assistants there, and progressively find to their horror that David, et al, ARE NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING to help the people in Chicago in a time of great turmoil. INSTEAD, they're "just monitoring" what's going on, watching everything play out, and MAY ONLY INTERVENE TO JUST DESTROY THE PLACE ("end the experiment") if it goes out of hand.
Hmmm... what an awful Religious Allegory that's becoming ... ;-)
It does, sort of, make for "an interesting story" ... though not exactly a religiously friendly (much less Catholic friendly) one. Indeed, all they needed to do is paint horns and a tail on Peter here ...
Anyway, three of four installments into the story, I'll probably see the next one as well ... but certainly not particularly enthusiastically ... sigh.
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