REVIEW: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Jeff Daniels (The Martian)
Naomi Watts (Birdman)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove)
Jonny Weston (Project Almanac)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Xander Berkeley (Poison Ivy 2)

Many Chicago citizens run towards the wall, but soldiers under Evelyn (Naomi Watts) are told to shut down the perimeter, and thus, no one is allowed through. Evelyn directs Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) of Candor to hold trials for the Erudite and Dauntless conspirators, in which a number of them becoming executions, starting with Max (Mekhi Phifer). Evelyn and Johanna (Octavia Spencer) attempt to pressure Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) into taking leadership positions in the new coalition, but both refuse. After seeing that the hostile situation within the city is only going to get worse, Tris escapes with Four, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and Peter (Miles Teller) to journey beyond the wall that encloses Chicago. However, Tori is killed by Edgar (Jonny Weston) in the attempt.  The group is ambushed by Edgar, who is later disabled by an armed group of individuals and airships. The soldiers take the group to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, a highly advanced city where they learn that years ago the government believed that society’s problems were caused by “damaged genes”. In an attempt to create a better society, they began to modify people’s genes, with disastrous results. The government set up “experiments” in an attempt to repair this mistake, establishing isolated cities across the remains of the United States. The hope is to raise enough genetically pure Divergent individuals to fix the “genetic damage” left in the wake of the Purity War.

Tris and Four are tested by Matthew (Bill Skarsgård) and Nita (Nadia Hilker) to verify and study their Divergence. Tris is shown to be truly Divergent, but Four’s genetic structure indicates that his genes are still “damaged”. Caleb and Peter are assigned to surveillance teams that monitor Chicago. Matthew then brings Tris to the leader of the Bureau, David (Jeff Daniels). David gives Tris a device that allows her to view her mother’s memories, and sees that her mother was rescued and adopted by the Bureau before volunteering to join the Chicago experiment out of dedication to the project. In return for his help in restoring peace to Chicago, Tris agrees to help David, who claims that only the council he reports to has the power to intervene.

Meanwhile, Four and Christina train with Nita and joins the Bureau’s military force. They join the military on a rescue mission to a nearby wasteland village, though Four becomes mistrusting of the Bureau’s intentions after realizing that they are going there to kidnap and forcefully integrate children into the Bureau’s populace. Upon their return, Four discreetly petitions Caleb to keep an eye on the situation in Chicago. Four also attempts to warn Tris of the Bureau’s intentions, but she rejects his ideas.

Caleb warns Four of a rapidly escalating conflict back in Chicago between Johanna’s group of Allegiants and Evelyn’s factionless, with open war becoming an imminent threat. Four appeals to Tris for her to return to Chicago with him to end the bloodshed, but she decides to go with David to Providence to meet with the council. David agrees to reinsert Four back in Chicago, escorted by Matthew and some Bureau soldiers. Once in the air, Matthew quietly reveals to Four that the flight is a trap and he is meant to be killed. A skirmish breaks out and Four defeats all of the soldiers, though the airship crashes as a result. Matthew betrays David by helping Four get through the cloak wall. Four proceeds to Chicago while Matthew remains behind to be rescued by the Bureau and warn Tris.

Meanwhile, Tris and David meet with the council. Tris disagrees with the council’s objectives and criticizes how they have done nothing to stop the violence in Chicago. The council responds that David had the power to intervene whenever he desires, revealing that he has lied to her from the beginning. During the return flight to the Bureau, Tris ends their partnership. Upon her return, she gathers Caleb and Christina in David’s airship to return to Chicago, and Nita helps them escape. Four is captured by the factionless and confronts Evelyn to end the violence although she shows no intention of standing down. Tris, Caleb, and Christina arrive to find the city tearing itself apart at the opening stage of a full assault by the Allegiant. David makes a deal with Peter in exchange for Peter’s promotion and inserts him into Chicago to convince Evelyn to deploy a hidden Bureau stockpile of gas to wipe the memories of the attackers and force a peace in her favor, to which she reluctantly agrees. Peter takes her to a vault where she can deploy the gas across the city but remain safe herself, making her the only individual in Chicago who will remember any of those events.

Tris and Christina fight through the factionless and arrive at the vault, having rescued Four along the way. At the vault door, Four convinces Evelyn to stop the gas attack, as he wouldn’t remember who she was if she carried it out. She folds and stops the release, and is shot by a frustrated Peter. Peter gloats in his victory until the same gas starts releasing inside the vault as well. Realizing David has betrayed him, Peter opens the vault so Tris and Four can stop the gas release and flees back towards the cloak wall, as Four says he will make him pay for badly wounding his mother.

Caleb arrives and aids Tris in destroying the gas dispersion hub, stopping the release. The main characters gather atop the Erudite building as they watch the stolen shuttle fly back towards the Bureau, heavily laden with explosives. Tris transmits a message to the whole city, revealing to them the existence of the Bureau and that Chicago was an experiment of the Pure. Her message to the Bureau is that Chicago is no longer their experiment, but the home of its citizens. Caleb detonates the explosives at the end of the message, tearing a massive hole through the cloak wall and revealing the two cities to each other. The film ends with the Chicago characters gazing at the Bureau in the distance, with David standing behind Tris via his machine, glaring at her.I really enjoyed this film.I love Tobias and Tris’ relationship, the challenges they face and the way they overcome this with the help of other characters. I think this movie, more than the previous two, really cemented the personalities of some of the other significant characters so we can become more invested in them and I really appreciated this touch. The movie is also shot beautifully. The only downside to the film is that its only the first half of the book we have to wait till next year for the final part.

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REVIEW: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Kate Winslet (Quills)
Naomi Watts (Birdman)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Maggie Q (The King of Fighters)
Tony Goldwyn (Ghost)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Justin Leak (Powers)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Jonny Weston (Project Almanac)
Suki Waterhouse (Pride and Predjudice and Zombies)

Five days after the assault on the Abnegation faction by Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers, Jeanine has declared martial law and that the Divergents – those with the qualities of multiple factions – and those allied with them are the enemy. Among the Abnegation wreckage, Dauntless leader Eric (Jai Courtney) and his platoon recover a five-sided box: each side has a faction symbol. Jeanine presumes it contains data from the city’s founders and the means to end the Divergence problem. As only a Divergent is capable of opening the box, she orders the capture of all Divergents.
Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) hide within the Amity compound. Soon after, Eric and his fleet arrive to test all the occupants for Divergence. Peter gives up the group’s location as Tris, Four, and Caleb escape and board a train headed into Factionless territory. After fights with the Factionless aboard, Four reveals his name–Tobias Eaton–which prompts the Factionless to stand down and reply that they have been searching for him.
Four, Tris and Caleb are given amnesty at Factionless. There, Tris and Caleb discover that the Factionless leader is Four’s mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts). She suggests that Dauntless and Factionless should ally against Erudite, but Four declines. The next morning, the three leave Factionless for Candor to meet up with the remaining Dauntless; during the trek, Caleb tells his sister Tris that he cannot continue with them and goes in a different direction. Upon arrival, Tris and Four are arrested and brought before Candor leader Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), who intends to deliver them to Jeanine. However, Four pleads for Jack to conduct a trial in Candor with the use of truth serum. During the trial, Four communicates his motives and is absolved. Tris tearfully admits her guilt in shooting and killing Will, which angers Christina.
Candor is attacked by the Dauntless who have sided with Eric, and many people are shot with pellets of new simulation serum. Tris is captured by Eric who learns she has a Divergence reading of 100%, making her the perfect subject to open the box. Eric arrests Tris, but Four and the Factionless allies arrive to save her. After a brief exchange, Four shoots Eric in the head for the murder of hundreds of people. Back at Erudite, Jeanine, frustrated that none of the Divergent subjects have survived the simulation trials required to open the box, is approached by Peter, who pledges his loyalty to Erudite, and suggests the best way to get Tris to surrender is by exploiting her humanity.
Back at the Factionless base, Four reluctantly agrees with Evelyn that war is inevitable and that they need to prepare. Jeanine activates the pellets, causing Christina, Marlene and Hector to repeatedly chant that Tris must turn herself in or more death will follow, as they step closer and closer to the edge of a tall structure. Tris and Tori then climb the sides of the roof as Tris rescues Christina and Tori, Hector. However, Marlene plunges to her death. Overcome by guilt, Tris decides to turn herself in. That night, she and Four sleep together, and then she quietly slips away.
Upon arrival at the Erudite headquarters, Tris is immediately arrested. She agrees to undergo the trials provided that the suicides cease. Tris overcomes four of the trials, however, when her vitals drop, Jeanine reluctantly halts the simulation so that Tris can rest. Tris then discovers that they have captured Four. She fails the final trial and her vital signs cease. Her body is wheeled over to Four’s cell so the latter can mourn, but when she awakens, Peter assists Four in overpowering the guards, revealing that he had faked her death by injecting her with a sleep serum. Tris is determined to open the box and find the truth about its message; she and Four head to the simulation room, while Peter returns to the control room to secretly grant them security access.
Overcoming the final trial, Tris successfully opens the box. A woman explains that the walled city and faction system is actually an experiment they devised, that the Divergents are actually the success of the experiment, and that the world is waiting outside for them to return to humanity. Realizing she has lost all her power, Jeanine orders that the box be buried and that Four and Tris be executed. However, the Factionless army breaks into the simulation room to rescue Tris and Four. Jeanine and Caleb are arrested. The message from the box is broadcast to the entire city. Tris is hailed as a hero by the masses, eager to explore the world beyond the wall. As Jeanine looks out from her cell, she states that after 200 years since the city was enclosed, there is no telling what awaits them beyond it. Evelyn tells her that she will never find out and kills her.Insurgent is a fantastic follow up to Divergent, however I would recommend watching one after the other. Everyone was awesome in their roles, once again Kate and Shailene shone. But I also loved Octavia as she really showed what a true Amity leader would be like. I also loved when they went into Candor where Tris and Four were on trial. Props to Robert Schwentke for a perfect sequel that (like its predecessor) has you craving more.

REVIEW: DIVERGENT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Kate Winslet (Quills)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Tony Goldwyn (Ghost)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Maggie Q (The King of Fighters)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)

In a futuristic dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intellectual). The remaining population are the Factionless, who have no status or privilege in this society. When children reach the age of 16, they undergo a serum-induced psychological aptitude test which indicates their best-suited faction, though they are allowed to choose any faction as their permanent group at the subsequent Choosing Ceremony.

Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) was born into Abnegation, which runs the government. Her father, Andrew Prior (Tony Goldwyn), serves on the ruling council along with the head of Abnegation, Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson). Beatrice takes her test with a Dauntless woman named Tori Wu (Maggie Q) as her proctor. Her results show equal attributes of multiple factions, meaning she is Divergent. Her divergence includes Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. Tori records her results as Abnegation and warns her to keep the true result a secret, saying that because Divergents can think independently the government cannot control them and they are considered threats to the existing social order.

The next day at the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice’s brother Caleb Prior (Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite. After some indecision, Beatrice defects to Dauntless. After the ceremony, Beatrice meets Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Al (Christian Madsen), and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), three other initiates from other factions who also chose Dauntless. Christina and Al are from Candor, and Will is from Erudite. The initiates’ commitment and fearlessness are immediately tested, and Eric Coulter (Jai Courtney), a brutal Dauntless leader, makes it clear that anyone not meeting Dauntless’ high expectations will be expelled from the faction to become Factionless. Beatrice is the first to volunteer for a leap of faith from a tall building into a dark hole, landing in a net. When Four (Theo James), a transfer initiates’ instructor, asks her name, she shortens it to “Tris” leaving her Abnegation childhood behind.

Tris initially struggles in Dauntless training, ranking far below the cutoff after the first evaluation, but with Four’s help slowly improves. Eric matches her against her nemesis — Peter (Miles Teller) in a fight. Tris is soundly defeated and wakes up in the infirmary. Informed that she will miss the most important test, Capture The Flag, Tris leaves the infirmary and joins the other initiates, secures her team’s victory, and makes the final cut.

In the next phase of training, the initiates face their worst fears in psychological simulations. Divergents are resistant to serums and simulations, so Tris excels at these tests, solving them in peculiar ways, but Four warns her to solve the challenges as a normal Dauntless would in order to hide her abilities. Tris visits Caleb, who tells her that Erudite is planning to overthrow Abnegation and become the ruling faction. On her return to Dauntless quarters, Tris is attacked by Al, Peter, and Drew before being rescued by Four. The next day Al pleads for Tris’ forgiveness but she refuses, calling him a coward. He later kills himself by jumping into “The Chasm” rather than live with the shame.

To prepare her for the final test, Four takes Tris into his own fear simulations, where she learns that he was Tobias Eaton, the son of Marcus Eaton. After the simulation, they kiss. Tris then passes her test and is officially initiated into Dauntless. The rest of the Dauntless are injected with a serum supplied by Erudite which is supposedly for tracking, but is actually for mind control. The next morning, the Dauntless prepare to execute Abnegations by the orders of the Erudites. Divergents are unaffected by the new serum, so Tris must blend in to avoid suspicion. She finds Four, who reveals himself as a Divergent. While the Dauntless move to raid Abnegation, Tris and Four separate from the group and attempt to locate Tris’ parents, but Eric realises Four is not under control and captures the two. Four is taken into custody while Tris is ordered to be executed. Her mother Natalie (Ashley Judd) appears and liberates her but is shot dead as they flee.

Tris finds her father in hiding with several Abnegations including Caleb and Marcus. The group sneaks into Dauntless headquarters, where Tris encounters Peter and forces him to lead them to Erudite’s control center. Her father sacrifices himself in a shootout, and Tris goes in alone to find Four, who is now under stronger mind control designed for Divergents and attacks her. Using her knowledge of his fears, she manages to wake him from the mind control and the two enter the central control room, where Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is about to have the Dauntless army execute the entire Abnegation faction. Tris uses a sample of the mind control serum on her to force her to cancel the program. The group escapes the compound and boards a train out of the complex.

A great start to a superb franchise. Unlike many science-fiction stories, the narrative is focused on the main character’s journey as she tries to identify where she fits in a post-war world. It is therefore fortunate the the main character is very well acted, and this film is more about her journey than about the wider societal issues that form the ending. The film is also nicely grounded despite it being set centuries in the future, so there is little in the form of distracting CGI visuals. it’s refreshing to have a nicely fleshed out world that feels real.