“I think you and I are destined to do this forever,” said YA novels dangling over a skyscraper…right before I drop its ass.
For fuck’s sake, I cannot catch a break with these goddamn YA adaptations. So here we go again, after last year’s Insurgent, we find Tris Prior successfully opening the wall surrounding the post-apocalyptic Chicago for its people to go forth and find…the people who locked them inside Chicago for the past 200 years. Whatever, the ending of that movie gets immediately undermined when one of the movie’s antagonists, Naomi Watts (wasting her talent and no I’m not going to bother looking up Wikipedia for the character names) chooses to keep everyone in Chicago inside the wall and establish her own dictatorship to replace the old one. Not keen on the idea, Tris gets her acting-challenged boyfriend Four (yes that’s his name) and a few of her besties to travel outside Chicago only to find a sprawling wasteland. But amidst the radioactive lands, Tris and company encounter the “Bureau of Genetic Warfare” who seem like they are there to help, but may have ulterior motives.
Let’s cut the shit, of course the BUREAU OF GENETIC WARFARE have fucking ulterior motives, there wouldn’t be a movie otherwise. Because every single one of these YA adaptations, from The 5th Wave to The Maze Runner to The Hunger Games features a paramiltary organization that initially welcomes the Hat and her posse to their clubhouse, but over the course of the movie it’s revealed the organization means the heroes harm. EVERY. SINGLE. GODDAMN. TIME.
Now you see, I don’t mind if Young Adult adaptations have similar themes of rejecting conformity or rebelling the status quo (no matter how outdated the status quo may be in our modern world). Hell, I don’t even mind if a writer takes a common literary trope (like the Chosen One) and uses it, provided they have fully-fleshed out characters we are hanging out with (a la Harry Potter). What I do MIND, is that whole plot details are literally copy pasted from each other as I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Last year, I called the Divergent Series in particular the result of an Ookie Cookie (once again, look it up) session with various YA adaptations. So for this installment we also manage to rip off the drop ships from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, the watching of a deceased person’s memories like the Pensieve from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the walking around a green screened wasteland in The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and the reestablishment of a failed system of government (however idiotic it may be) like in, well Hunger Games again.
The biggest problem of this movie is that it just expects you to accept these plot sequences at face value and not question it. The film introduces the new elements of the Bureau despite the fact there hasn’t even been a hint to their participation in this series for two freaking movies. So it doesn’t feel like a natural progression of events like it does in Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, because the identity of the threats in those movies were consistent towards the end, the antagonists were just using different tactics to thwart the heroes. That’s decent writing, a trait completely lost on The Divergent Series.
It’s bad enough that the plot is convoluted and contrived with bad guys who have the dumbest plots to control people for even dumber reasons. But it’s compounded when you have forgettable and unlikable characters like these. Shailene Woodley’s Tris continues to be a blank hat for teenage girls to wear by wearing increasingly monotonous outfits that strip her of any uniqueness even as the entire cast soliloquize about how “special” she is. I’ll give her points for trying to act this garbage, but this script fails her at every turn. But at least she is trying, unlike Theo James who might as well be replaced with Plank from Ed, Edd, and Eddy (how many, I wonder will get that reference?) for his completely wooden and stilted performance even as he tries to show concern for his girlfriend or connect with his mom, Naomi Watts and I swear this motherfucker looks older than her (but that might be because she’s a vampire).
Only Miles Teller gets to have any personality at all, even though that personality is “dickhead.” It’s still funny to me Teller agreed to be in this movie at all after seeing how badly Fant4stic went for him last summer. Still, he’s not in it for a whole lot because we have to be inundated with a variety of actors wasting their time on screen from Jeff Daniels to Maggie Q to Ansel Elgort to Daniel Dae Kim to Octavia Spencer for brief two-minute interludes. You can’t connect to any of these characters which makes it especially jarring when they die and Tris mourns their death as she and her friends are in the middle of a firefight. I honestly forgot who the fuck died and why she was important until I looked the character up on Google later.
But hey, at least you could tell from the trailers this series has a bit more money, right? Nope, the action looks and feels awful in the film itself. The green screen effects look too clean and too plastic for you to take seriously, very similar to the atrocious Gods of Egypt. You can tell in several instances that the background is clearly fake, so it yanks you out of the film even further.
And just to put the kibosh on this whole debacle: it’s painfully dull. No levity, no funny jokes, no heartwarming moments, no thrilling sequences, no goddamn nothing. This is a two hour lobotomy of jack shit happening. And when you FINALLY reach the end, what’s your reward? A liter of old piss with an ominous final shot indicating there’s one more fucking movie coming. Which frustrated me all the more when I found out THIS was supposed to be the final film in this series, but the filmmakers decided to chop the last book in half to make a Part 1 and Part 2 to eek out a few more pennies from this bullshit. And when I compared what I had seen to the plot synopsis of the book on Wikipedia, I realized they made a bunch of crap up in this movie in order to pad out the run time and give themselves an excuse to make the fourth movie.
This series sucks ass, I can’t put it any simpler than that. It’s the most cynical form of filmmaking there is and I abhor this practice with every fiber of my being. I didn’t hate this as much as my lowest rated films this year, but this is a rock bottom…
SOME OL’ BULLSHIT