- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The next movie covering Veronica Roth’s third book of her young adult dystopian “Divergent” series arrived to theaters earlier this year to lackluster reviews by critics and a mediocre box office till.

Allegiant (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $39.99, 120 minutes) debuts on Blu-ray in hopes of once again capturing the book franchise’s hard-core fan base by offering a potent digital transfer of the film and bountiful supply of extras.

It almost succeeds, if not for a lumbering, soap-operatic plot that gets in the way.

(Spoiler alert.)

Specifically, two movies later (for those counting), the story picks up after the genetically pure Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) has defeated Jeanine Matthews, and freed a segregated Chicago population of faction controls while enjoying an ever-evolving romance with the genetically damaged Four (Theo James).

However, the new leader Evelyn wants justice and power, but Beatrice and her pals want no part of her plans. They escape over a massive electrified wall surrounding the tattered Windy City and find a wasteland that looks like it was designed by Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” production team.

SEE ALSO: Blu-ray reviews: ‘Midnight Special,’ ‘10 Cloverfield Lane,’ ‘The Other Side of the Door’

The group eventually get to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare (built upon the ruins of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport), and Beatrice agrees to help the leader of the bureau David (Jeff Daniels) explain the importance of genetic purity to the mysterious council.

Of course, all is not right here, and that’s when the evil fun begins.

What completely overshadows the burdening narrative is the wonderfully fun and futuristic technology injected into the world.

The high-definition port (2.40:1-aspect ratio) spotlights such slick items as a plasma protection globe that envelopes and protects the body, three-dimensional surveillance station pods, a set of mini drones (that act as scanners, shields and for targeting enemies), a mile-high-tall camouflage wall, a high-speed bubble ship and a hovering troop carrier looking plucked from a “Judge Dredd” movie.

As far as performances, Miss Woodley carries the emotional load while Miles Teller continues to annoy as Peter Hayes, an overtly sarcastic, greedy weasel, always ready to undermine his new friends.

I cannot in my wildest imagination understand why the characters, movie after movie, are stupid enough to constantly trust this clown and not simply beat him to an unrecognizable pulp.

Oh yeah, part two of the book’s movie adaptation arrives next year around this time to cement the cinema franchise as one of the most excruciating in the history of young adult, post-apocalyptic franchises.

As promised, the Blu-ray disc does its best to give devoted fans plenty of extras to appreciate.

That potential goes down quickly with an optional commentary track from producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher. The unenthusiastic pair are silent more than they are talking, almost sounding exhausted, as Mr. Wick explains that they have spent four years in Ms. Roth’s imagination.

It’s one of the more underwhelming commentary tracks I have ever heard. I could have offered more insight on the movie armed with an Internet connection and Wikipedia.

Next, a collection of six featurettes (totally roughly 45 minutes) is hit and miss.

I did enjoy 11 minutes with Alec Hammond (production designer) and Stefan Fangmeier (visual effects supervisor) on the magic behind the special effects and computer-generated effects that showcased the sci-fi technology such as the secrets of the bubble ship and plasma globes.

Also worth a look is a 12-minute overview on digitally redesigning Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport starting from its current iteration and adding levels of futuristic design to create a sort of “hive of science and living,” according to the production staff.

Mr. Hammond, again, mainly offers the specifics with actors walking viewers through many of the Bureau sets and the genetics equipment.

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