Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Maze Runner

Year: 2014
Director: Wes Ball
Screenplay: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, T.S. Nowlin
Novel: James Dashner

The best way to see The Maze Runner is to go into this movie knowing nothing about it. This is what I did, and it made a hell of a lot of difference to my enjoyment of the film.  With a (12a) certificate stamped on the billboard outside, it won’t be long before you realise why they couldn’t make their minds up, as a distinct (15) flashed on the screen when it began.

Director Wes Ball has turned, what could have been a laborious run-of-the-mill teen sci-fi flick into short-sharp, edge-of-your seat excitement, where you care what happens and who gets hurt. Not bad for a pretty green (by Hollywood standards) director.

What’s good about The Maze Runner is, just like its predecessors, you don’t have to be a (Y)oung (A)dult to enjoy it. There’s a little bit of The Hunger Games vibe, and a dash of Divergent’s sci-fi, and a hint of TVs ‘Lost’ mystery, with a splash of ‘Lord of the Flies’, all rolled into one.

Running at 113 minutes, The Maze Runner doesn’t have much time for boring chit-chat. When the CGI action gets going, it gets going, and you’re guaranteed a heart-rate to match. Dan Zimmerman (Predators 2010) is responsible for the editing. Photography is courtesy of Enrique Chediak, known for 28 Weeks Later (2007). Add to that Production design by Marc Fisichella, his credits include X-Men: First Class (2011) and The X Files (1998).

Visuals aside, there is some very strong acting here from the leads, namely Dylan O’Brien, as Thomas our main protagonist, Will Poulter as Gally his competition, Blake Cooper as Chuck the youngest, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt the level-headed one. In fact, there is a whole host of soon-to-be-stars all trapped in the 'Glade' trying to find their way out of the dangerous Maze.

This really is more of an ensemble cast, as the performances, especially from Ki Hong Lee as Minho the Runner, and Aml Ameen as Alby the leader of the group, can’t be faulted either.

With a story that keeps you guessing (unless you’ve already read the 2009 source material via James Dashner’s book of the same name, and soon to be a trilogy with prequels) plus some really nasty looking monsters, it’s worth a trip to the cinema. I recommend The Maze Runner. After the sobering depression left over from ‘Gone Girl’; this comes as a welcome relief.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Gone Girl

Year: 2014
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: Gillian Flynn

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris…

In the UK we have a fairly new TV Channel called CBS Reality. Now for American audiences this is old news, but for Brits, we’re getting a taste of what living in America really means.

CBS Reality is a channel that is devoted entirely to showing you the ‘reality’ of America’s dark side, its depths and ultimately its depravity, through a series of shows about cops, the legal plea-bargaining culture, serial killers and murder in suburbia!

Gone Girl could easily be taken from an episode of a myriad of shows on the channel, perhaps the forensic ‘48 Hours’, or that other one, ‘Sins and Secrets’. Like these programmes, it comes with an 18 certificate, and a warning that you might be disturbed by its contents. This is a sure fire way to increase your audience figures.

Gone Girl is directed by David Fincher, a veteran of the sadistic mystery. You’ll know him from such movies gems as Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, and more recently, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Critics are saying great things about his latest offering. I want to tell you more about it, but even a few words on plot will ultimately give too much away. I happened upon a couple of reader comments over at Rotten Tomatoes and instantly figured out the so-called ‘twist’. There’s more than one.

For me, ‘Gone Girl the movie’ is disjointed, irritating in various ways, it’s also sick and depraved in subtle ways. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. Other critics have said that it’s an indictment of marriage, violence against women, and the roles we ‘play’. I would say these are just red-herrings.

What Gone Girl is all about is the horror that we are prepared to accept, to live with, to deny, in order to literally save ourselves. The story is about self-preservation at all costs. Translate that to politics or religion if you like. In a nut-shell, it's a contemporary fairy-tale for adults. A warning. Instead of golden or poison apples, you get gratuitous sex and menacing stares. 

Let’s talk specifics. Ben Affleck as chief protagonist Nick Dunne, is the husband who has a missing wife. He plays his role too laid-back in the early scenes, but as the story proceeds you begin to understand just why he’s so cool, on and off the screen. The sister Margo, (Carrie Coon), is believable, the parents, Rand and Marybeth Elliott (David Clennon and Lisa Banes) they are perhaps a little too cold to accept.

If you are a fan of CBS Reality, then you’ll believe that the chief investigators, Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit), and the celebrity lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) are real people!

The true revelation is Rosamund Pike. I’ve never much liked her in anything, until now. Her performance as Amazing Amy Dunne , not your ordinary house-wife, is extraordinary. She really is outstanding here. I’m sure awards season will see her light-up a dozen red carpets and she deserves a statue or two.

If anything, Gone Girl is a brilliant satire on the media and the public’s fickle tastes. Sensationalist TV host and pseudo-investigator Ellen Abbott (a great turn by Missi Pyle) shows us just what the world really cares about. As the plot thickens, the media circus that surrounds Affleck’s character is familiar, albeit overblown, with constant paparazzi camera flashes at the windows proving more ridiculous than realistic. Nobody cares about UN mandates against Russia when some hot guy just offed his hot wife, and all their dirty laundry is on prime-time. 

If you can sit for two-and-a-half hours in a theatre seat, then this is worth a shot. You may be shocked, but not disappointed. You have writer Gillian Flynn to thank for it. She adapted her own best-selling novel into the screenplay of Gone Girl. I’m not sure if Gillian’s ever seen a show on CBS Reality, but she most definitely knows who Nancy Grace is, and by the end of this, so will you.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars 2013 - Best Short Film - Animation

Here's part of the OSCAR NOMINATED 'Head Over Heels', directed by Tim Reckart. Winner of the Annie Award for Best Student Film. Won't be predicting anything this year!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

R.I.P Tony Scott 1944 - 2012

The Last Boy Scout - 1991 - There's always a bad day, but we have to smile regardless. Here's a clip from one of the oldies but goodies from Scott, one of my favourites.

Jimmy Dix:  It ain't right.

Joe Hallenbeck:  No, it ain't right. [sighs]

Joe Hallenbeck:  This ain't no game, flash. Real guns, real bullets. It's dangerous.

Jimmy Dix:  Danger's my middle name.

Joe Hallenbeck:  Mine's Cornelius. You tell anybody, I'll kill you.