The Divergent series continues to fail to diverge from formula, trading as a poor man’s Oblivion this time around, and maintaining its diluted, snail’s pace path to a guaranteed anticlimax.Indeed, despite the books, which could have been bettered rather than ‘expanded’; despite the budget which provides epic scale but – in more shots than it should – remarkably shoddy effects; and despite the continued appearance of named actors in supporting roles designed to lend ‘weight’ to the proceedings but unable to make up for the overwhelming limitations of the shiny young cast beneath them, Allegiant remains determined to make it to its ignominious end at all cost. It will likely merely end up as an example of the monotonous mundanity – the poor man’s Hunger Games that it started off – is now just an example of following the original flawed but still fitfully effective YA franchise into soon-to-be forgotten oblivion.Uneventful direction and bland performances tear scenes apart – scenes where the tension should have just been ramped up after a faux execution; where in-fighting the night after the victory of the rebellion should have been made more eventful; where dispatching key characters who’ve been in all the films so far, should be more emotional. Allegiant is determined to be Prozac-numbed into the wastelands instead; the faintly more interesting third act taking to the skies in bubble-craft with Oblivion-lite visuals and score, whilst Shailene Woodley’s bland lead, and Theo James’s blander companion, desperately pretend that this isn’t merely delay tactics to get to the conclusion of what could (and should) have been a trilogy.
Picture QualityDespite the fact that, technically, Allegiant is an HD wonder, it’s hard to get past a series of remarkably clumsy green-screen shots that take you right out of the film.
Nevertheless the 1080p/AVC-encoded HD transfer is largely immaculate, for the most part disseminating some wonderfully board and epic future/dystopia landscapes in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Detail is outstanding for the most part, picking up on the shiny, perfume model-like visages of the main cast; the clinically spartan Oblivion-like realm; the intricate city wastelands; and the strange blood orange desert landscapes (straight out of Star Trek: The Original Series, and looking like a 60s interpretation of what Mars looks like) and delivering strong colours, deep black levels and few complaints.
Sound QualityThe accompanying Dolby Atmos track offers a surprisingly punchy score up front, which, unfortunately, only further contradicts the underwhelming material beneath.
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the front and centre channels, and is unreservedly clear and coherent throughout, whilst effects light up the soundstage with discrete, distinctive and often innovative presence – advanced weaponry, explosives and technology giving cloaking devices, protective bubbles, projected shields and so forth, vitality and authenticity. The score – a significant step up over prior outings but still definitely a poor man’s Oblivion in design – thunders along in the background ramping up tension in spite of the cast and crew’s seeming desire to bring everything down back to the mundane. Surround distinction and LFE input leave this another technically hard-to-fault offering, and leaves Allegiant sounding far, far better than it arguably has any right to.
ExtrasThe disc provides a decent enough selection of supplements.
Headlined by an Audio Commentary from the producers, which illuminates some background into the production, both on the technical front and in terms of the source material and its adaptation, the extras are otherwise populated by a series of short and mildly unsatisfying Featurettes – Allegiant: Book to Film, looking at the story; Battle in the Bullfrog, looking at a key scene; Finding the Future: Effects and Technology taking slightly longer to look behind the effects; Characters in Conflict dipping behind the characters; The Next Chapter: Cast and Characters, an interview-heavy selection of soundbites; and Building the Bureau dissecting the transformation of an airport into a key future setting.
Blu-ray VerdictFollowing suit from Mockingjay Part 1 and treading remarkably close to Scorch Trials territory, Allegiant is an exercise in redundancy.
Despite a few good ideas - mostly borrowed - scattered across the runtime, this unnecessary sequel only bloats what could have, once, been a more streamlined, efficient Hunger Games successor, instead falling into the same trap as its predecessor with formulaic familiarity and diluted monotony drowning out any sporadic worth. Still, if you're a fan of the franchise, and want to continue your collection, then this disc release is certainly impressive.
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