A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Allegiant is the second-to-last movie in the Divergent series. Based on the first half of the final book in Veronica Roth's best-selling trilogy, the adaptation continues the saga of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her partner in love and war, Four (Theo James). The violence is on par with the second film, but there's a conspicuous lack of blood, even during execution-style murders in which someone is shot at close range. There's slightly less romance in this one, with a few passionate kisses but no love scene; two nonsexual shower scenes show Tris' silhouetted nude backside and Four's bare chest. Strong language is infrequent but includes a few uses of "s--t" and "ass." Tris, while still unfailingly courageous, makes a mistake this time by blindly trusting someone whom viewers will be able to tell is shady; Four continues to be a brave, if brooding, boyfriend to her. Readers, be aware: Many of the movie plot's details are quite different than in the book.
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What's the story?
ALLEGIANT wastes no time picking up shortly after the events of Insurgent, with Factionless leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts) holding show trials for Jeanine's treasonous Erudite and Dauntless followers in front of surprisingly bloodthirsty crowds. Before Tris' (Shailene Woodley) brother, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), can be executed like the other accused collaborators, the siblings, Four (Theo James), Christina (Zoe Kravitz), and Peter (Miles Teller) -- who blackmails his way into the group -- scale the wall to see what's outside their city of Chicago. What they find is an invisible "camera wall," beyond which is an area controlled by the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. The Bureau's area leader, David (Jeff Daniels), and his employees reveal that the the Faction-based society is in fact a generations-old experiment to see whether humanity's "damaged" genes could heal themselves without genetic modification. The Bureau monitors the Chicago experiment with round-the-clock surveillance. Tris, of course, is deemed genetically "pure," while the other Divergents (including Four) -- and everyone else -- are labeled damaged. David insists on daily one-on-ones with Tris to study her, while a suspicious Four realizes that the Bureau doesn't care about the folks back home.
Is it any good?
Something has broken in this adaptation of Veronica Roth's final book; despite strong leads, the third installment ranges from passably mediocre to cringe-inducingly awful. Although the trilogy's last book suffered from a dual point of view and other flaws, the adaptation is nowhere near as engrossing. Yes, you always expect that an adaptation will stray somewhat from its source material, but Allegiant will leave book fans perplexed about what's going on, since so much is completely different -- not just in the plot, but also in terms of character development. (It's practically impossible to believe that, despite having run out of anything to say, there's still one more adaptation left to come in the film franchise.)
While many readers have enjoyed the book trilogy as much as The Hunger Games, the same isn't true of the film adaptations. The comparison between the franchises is apt: Both are dystopian trilogies with capable, intelligent heroines who aren't afraid to fight for what they believe. But despite gifted actors like Woodley, this series got stuck with lackluster directors. Between the subpar special effects (the terrible green-screen backgrounds are especially amateurish) and the laughable extras who don't know how to believably carry a crowd scene, Allegiant is a mess that can't even be saved by Tris and Four's romance. Even their love story hits a snag this time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Allegiant. What purpose does it serve? Is it less impactful because there's no blood, even in cases of execution-style murders? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
Discuss who's a role model in the story, and who isn't. What do you think of Tris' and Four's decisions in this movie? What makes them worth rooting for?
Fans of the book: Is the movie a faithful adaptation? What differences did you appreciate, and which scenes or lines from the book did you miss?
- In theaters: March 18, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: July 12, 2016
- Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller
- Director: Robert Schwentke
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Book Characters, Great Girl Role Models
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity
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