The Divergent series may have struggled to differentiate itself from the flood of other post-Hunger Games “YA Dystopia” films with critics, but a devoted audience seems to have embraced the story of Tris and her struggle against the oppressive as well as mysterious forces that have governed her post-apocalyptic world across two films. Despite underwhelming reviews and word of mouth, a reliable fanbase has formed around the series’ mix of young romance, psychedelic action, and reality-bending subplots reminiscent of The Matrix.
In the new trailer for the franchise’s third outing, Allegiant, Tris and her comrades find new dangers waiting in the blighted wilderness and high-tech cities located beyond the perimeter of their former home.
In the Divergent universe, a post-apocalyptic society survives in the walled-off ruins of Chicago governed by arranging citizens into genetically-calculated roles as part of a strictly-regimented caste system. The system is upset when Tris (Shailene Woodley) discovers that she is a “Divergent;” a genetic anomaly who can’t be classified into any one group and possesses extraordinary physical and mental abilities. Along with a group of loyal friends, she turned against her city’s leaders and (as of the first sequel, Insurgent,) was preparing to find her true destiny in a futuristic city revealed to exist beyond the wall.
Though the series repeats many tropes familiar to fans of other works in the genre (not only Hunger Games but also The Maze Runner and The Giver,) fans have responded to Woodley’s winning performance in the lead and the presence of respected actors like Kate Winslet, Maggie Q and Ashley Judd in the supporting cast, along with a who’s-who of emerging younger talents like Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Jai Courtney and Zoe Kravitz. The series is also noteworthy for eschewing or inverting many of the tropes typical of the genre: For example, though Divergent, Tris pledges her allegiance to the athletics-focused “Dauntless” caste, while the villains have thus far tended to hail from the intellectual “Erudites” – thus upending the “nerds vs jocks” dynamics usually found in teen-targeted stories using high school social-structures as their central metaphor. The franchise has also been noted for the incorporation of extreme sports and mixed martial-arts into its action sequences, along with more conventional chases and gunplay.
Where the series has continued to face criticism, however, is in regards to its overall storyline; which many critics have given poor marks for a lack of originality within an already overcrowded genre. It remains to be seen whether Allegiant will break from this trend, as the trailers have thus far not revealed any significant plot details for audiences who didn’t already follow the series of books that inspired the franchise. The new footage features Tris, Four and their friends still fleeing from danger, fighting in high-tech combat vehicles and contending with being trapped in strange energy bubbles; but offers precious little in the way of noteworthy story turns save for the implication that the heroes may be walking into a situation just as complicated and dangerous as the one they just escaped from. Even less encouraging: These implied twists are eerily similar to those that comprised the plot of the second Maze Runner film, The Scorch Trials.
As with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Lionsgate has elected to divide the storyline of Allegiant’s book into two parts, bringing the final total of films in the series to four. Robert Schwentke, late of Red and R.I.P.D., directed this first installment from a screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Stephen Chbosky. Schwentke is also set to helm the final installment, originally titled Allegiant: Part II, which was set to be released in March of 2017 but was bumped by the studio to make room for the reboot of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers franchise. The film will now debut the following June, re-titled as Ascendant.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant will hit theaters on March 18th, 2016, followed by The Divergent Series: Ascendant on June 9th, 2017.