CLEVELAND, Ohio — Does the world really need a “Hunger Games” lite? Apparently, it does.

“Allegiant” is the third episode in the “Divergent” series, based on the books by Veronica Roth. The stories are so similar to “The Hunger Games” that author Suzanne Collins should sue Roth for grand theft.

Like “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent” is a futuristic teen soap opera about a repressive One World Order regime that targets young people for . . . being young? Not quite clear on that concept.

The miasmic plot of this third “Divergent” movie is as follows: Post-apocalyptic Chicago has become a haven for the remaining survivors of some nuclear disaster.

“Factions” within the city have different groups of kids fighting with one another. What they’re fighting over is the central mystery here.

Tris Pryor, played by Shailene Woodley, is a cardboard copy of Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games” movies. Tris and her hunky, handsome boyfriend Four (huh?), played by Theo James — the master of three expressions: angry stare, meaningful stare and the blank stare into space — have decided to climb the wall that entraps them in Chicago and cross the nuclear tundra to a kinder, gentler encampment where their powerful overlords watch their every move.

Tris, who has been deemed “pure,” is being recruited by the duplicitous corporate overlord David (Jeff Daniels) for some genetic experiment that will eventually be visited upon the “damaged” population back in Chicago. (Can you believe it took three screenwriters to come up with this nonsense?)

As in “The Hunger Games,” this world is one of vague political power structures enslaving really good-looking teens. There’s another outlying sector called “The Fringes” where people unlucky enough to be trapped outside the Chicago wall live in similar squalor.

It seems silly even to be explaining this ridiculous plot. So much of what happens makes no sense at all.

Again, as in “The Hunger Games,” a bad person turns out to be a good one and vice versa. Last-minute betrayal and redemption hang obviously around every clunky and badly acted plot turn.

To see serious actors such as Jeff Daniels and Naomi Watts sign on for these cartoon, paperback, young-adult roles (Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore did the same for “The Hunger Games”) only speaks to the vast sums of money that these low-brow, big-budget entertainments must earn.

The “Divergent” series will run its course with one more film, “Ascendant,” in which every obvious, triumphant ending scenario will undoubtedly be fulfilled.

If you’ve seen the previous two “Divergent” movies, you might be compelled to see this one.

If not, don’t bother.


The Divergent Series: Allegiant

Who: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Jeff Daniels, Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller. Directed by Robert Schwentke.

Rating: PG-13.

Running time: 121 minutes.

Where: Area theaters.

When: Opens Friday.

Grade: C+