I get it. The studio convinced Veronica Roth and the writers that the Divergent book series had a The Hunger Games feel to it. For the avid YA reader though, the differences were more than the similarities: a dystopic future and a heroine that goes against the odds to save her family, her world, is all the parallels they share. Divergent skipped the love triangle and developed a more robust love story, one that included sex, family feuds and an unexpected ending. The story always had you guessing what’s next. It was a non stop thrill ride. The movies aren’t. 😦
This is the main reason why I felt so disappointed when the powers that be decided to follow suit, capitalize on current market trends and split the last book into two movies. They were going to sell the series’ soul in order to milk more cash out of the deal. Sadly the plot line and twists (more futuristic tech, Tris et al being able to adapt quickly to this tech even though they had never seen it) added to supposedly differentiate this product from The Hunger Games. Using CGI extensively to elaborate sets made a mess of the character development and of the visuals. Unlike the main title of the series, it wasn’t Divergent from the norm, which took so much umph out of the delivery. The Allegiant book itself wasn’t good or long enough to deserve a two parter and could have been covered in one installment. After watching the big screen adaptation of part 1, it seems this supposition is proving to be true. They should have not gotten greedy and should have stuck to the book’s time line.
Hubris is to blame and Lionsgate is paying for the box office underperformance. Its stock took a dive after the earnings of Insurgent fell flat against the projections and is expected to dive again. The producers blindly trusted the fans to come back for more after Insurgent was met with lukewarm reception: Insurgent made 297 million worldwide vs Divergent’s 284 million. In contrast, Allegiant made 130 million during opening weekend, a lot less than expected, and will have to face against Batman v Superman at the box office for a while longer. Although the amount is enough to cover production costs, it is not enough to justify giving Ascendant the same outrageous budget. Production cuts are expected when the movie starts filming during the summer of 2016.
The reason for this decline is obvious: The movie doesn’t hold ground to the competition. The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games and The Avengers are all competing for the same crowds. In this economy not everyone can afford the price of admission. Although the March/Spring break release date was supposed to help it didn’t. The fact that Allegiant didn’t feel or look like what people had read or imagined turned a lot of fans off when they saw the previews. Most of my friends who read the book quit after movie #1 failed to deliver on the promise that the books had. I couldn’t let it go for some reason and not even the hardcore movie fans could save it with a dwindling and alienated audience.
Tris and Four deserved better than this, even though the actors did a good job delivering the shoddy content. Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer shined but not brightly enough to save the franchise. This was a total waste of Jeff Daniels too! The story lacks heart and the girl power vibe that made the series so enjoyable. If Veronica contributed to the rewrites she must have done so reluctantly, I hope. The studio could end it now and no one would notice or miss out! Guess we’ll have to wait until Summer of 2017 to see how the end it. I’m hoping they stay true to the story even if it elicits the ire of the movie fans. After all the emotional investment, they owe us this much.
Don’t let this debacle of a movie deter you from reading the books. They are everything you would want a dystopic experimental future to be sans the over the top techno babble that can ruin the illusion of a present society under an alternate reality. They are worth your consideration.