Lionsgate 121 minutes. PG-13
Shailene Woodley and Theo James are back as Tris and Four and they go over the wall in this installment of this third installment of the Quadilogy. There’s a lot of action, but not a whole lot of emotion. There are times when it gets a little cheesy. Even the audience at our screening groaned and even laughed at a couple of scenes that missed the mark. That said, fans seemed to be satisfied that it stuck close to the book, better than the 2nd film: Insurgent. But, Four does not serve as a narrator in this film as he does in the book.
Because this is only the first half the last book, we wondered how this segment would be handled. Yes, like they did for The Hunger Games, the last book has been split into two movies. Robert Schwentke directed the second film in the series and this third one. He’s already bowed out of the finale saying he needs to spend more time with his family. That’s never a good sign. The screenplay was written by Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, and Stephen Chbosky. That’s a lot of writers.
We think the actors’ emotions his latest attempt seem suppressed, especially in the relationship between Tris and Four, and Mother/son relationship between Evelyn and Four. Sometimes Woodley is just too wooden. And the same goes for the rest of the cast. It all seems so understated when there’s so much at stake.
Some of the special effects were amazing to watch. Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who plays her estranged brother, Caleb, describe the scenes scaling the wall as exhausting.They were all put in harnesses. Elgort says for him, it was more like being dragged up the wall, which ripped his clothes to shreds on each take. But the scenes were shot well using various angles.
There’s a lot of fighting and a lot of running out in the open away from the bad guys shooting guns. It’s amazing what bad shots they were, because most of the time, they don’t hit anything. There are some good crashes and explosions to keep your interest. But there are also a lot of closeups of blank stares where not much is going on.
Woodley says she likes being able to do things in films you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do. She liked running through the desert in the red rain. And she says it was amazing for her to see the images the graphic effects created like the office and other high tech surroundings that were just a green screen when she did the scenes. Theo James said there were so many times he was talking to nothing and had to concentrate on what he was saying to who, even though he was just looking into thin air.
There are other special effects, like putting them inside floating plasma bubbles suspended in air which looked pretty silly. The technology of the transporters seemed ok, but more like generic space ships from shows like Star Trek or Deep Space Nine. And the cleansing of our rebels was an obvious ploy to show some skin, particularly of James ripped tatted abs.
Miles Teller seemed like the only character having fun with his role. He gets to have the sarcastic punch lines, but says it was so fun coming to the set every day to see who was on the call list. He particularly liked acting with Jeff Daniels who makes his first series appearance as David, the person Tris puts her trust in. He’s the man pulling the strings. He, too, is understated. Daniels says his kids were impressed their Dad joined the cast of one of their favorite series.
Naomi Watts was intense enough, but we didn’t believe the supposed bond between she and Four. We call her a lightweight heavy trying to gain power to run Chicago in spite of opposition from Octavia Spencer, head of another faction, Amity. We’ll have to see what Watts does as Evelyn in the last film.
Is this worth your bucks? This was filmed in Atlanta, even though it’s supposed to be set in Chicago. The dystopian wave of the future in these Young Adult series continues. Seeing Chicago destroyed is weird and some of the references brought laughs from our Chicago screening audience.
Fans of the series seemed to be into it, but we found some scenes did not follow or flow. We’re Interested in seeing how the next director interprets the final installment to see if they can tie up all the loose ends and draw it to a satisfying climax. Hoping the director will be able to pull more than stunts out of his hat, and show more allegiance to the characters and their emotions.