After the rather lacklustre teen-dystopia adventure The Maze Runner, the action continues in this equally gimmicky sequel. It's the middle episode in novelist James Dashner's trilogy, so it lacks a proper narrative structure, building through a series of action sequences that put our heroes into jeopardy. But the film never develops any suspense because writer T.S. Nowlin and director Wes Ball never bother to properly develop the characters or find an original approach to the action.
After escaping from the Maze, Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and his friends (including Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee and Dexter Darden) find themselves in the Scorch, a wasteland created by some sort of environmental catastrophe. They're rescued by Janson (Aidan Gillen) and taken into a sort of halfway house for lost teens, where Thomas meets Aris (Jacob Lofland), a loner who knows something nefarious is going on. Sure enough, the monolithic corporation WCKD, run by Ava (Patricia Clarkson), is using these kids because they are immune to the disease that's turning people into Cranks who maraud across the landscape. To avoid this fate, Thomas and crew plot an escape, fleeing into a devastated city, where they meet Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and feisty teen Brenda (Rosa Salazar). Pursued by WCKD, they travel on into the mountains in search of a safe haven.
Yes, this has essentially become a zombie thriller now, as the Cranks chase the kids even more relentlessly than Janson and WCKD do. The problem is that everything about this film feels familiar, from crowds of The Walking Dead to The Day After Tomorrow's abandoned shopping mall to Transformers 3's tilting skyscraper. As with the first film, the dialogue overflows with corny mythology in which everything given an ominous, cool-sounding name. It's all so constructed that it sounds utterly artificial. And the derivative action sequences are directed without even a hint of realism.
Continue reading: The Scorch Trials Review
Having overcome a series of deadly encounters in the box-office smash The Maze Runner, this much-anticipated second chapter in the dystopian young-adult series finds Thomas and his fellow Gladers facing their greatest challenge yet, as they search for clues about the sinister organisation known as WCKD. Their mission takes them to a desolate landscape called the Scorch, where they face new dangers at every turn. Teaming up with resistance fighters, they must take on WCKD's powerful forces in an attempt to uncover the organisation's shocking plans for these young heroes.
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Following their supposed escape from the monster infested maze, the surviving Gladers led by Thomas are taken to an underground facility in the wake of a devastating solar flare known as The Scorch that has left the vast majority of the population infected with a disease called the Flare, but little do they know they are about to enter Phase Two. Soon they begin to realise that they're still part of WCKD's dastardly experiment and they must find a way to escape once and for all or risk more of them dying untimely deaths. They are warned about the dangers of entering the barren wasteland that has become the rest of the world, but they have no choice if they want freedom. Cities have been overtaken by sand dunes, but they soon about to discover yet more unfathomable horrors that lie before them.
Kill the Messenger follows the real life story of Journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), as he stumbles upon the story of a lifetime. When Webb hears that the US government was aware of the exportation of drugs to America, he begins following up the story. This, in turn, leads him to uncover a conspiracy where the CIA imported vast amounts of cocaine to sell in the US in order to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras rebel army. Webb is then faced with the option to leave the story alone, or continue his investigation and put his career, family and own life at risk.
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Everything about this film screams excess, from the ludicrous two-and-a-half hour running time to the whopping scale of the action sequences to Johnny Depp's bizarro costume. But this reunion between Depp and his original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy director Verbinski is a solidly made romp that actually has some genuine laughs and thrills. There's certainly never a dull moment.
It's set in late-1860s Texas, where John Reid (Hammer) arrives to visit his brother Dan (Dale), whose wife Rebecca (Wilson) is John's former flame. After an elaborate prison break, John is deputised and joins the posse of rangers hunting down the escapee. When they're ambushed, John is the lone survivor, nursed back to health by quirky outsider Tonto (Depp), a Native American who knows how to get to the bottom of what's going on here. So they go undercover to find the truth, which involves a secret silver mine, construction on the first transcontinental American railway, and tensions between European settlers and the native Comanche community.
The script is a complex riot of details that resolutely refuse to gel into a coherent picture until the screenwriters are good and ready to fill in the gaps. In the mean time, they throw the characters into a series of madcap action set-pieces that are wildly cartoonish in the way everyone just dusts themselves off afterwards and carries on. From train crashes to horseback chases, this is non-stop action. And Verbinski is an expert at staging these massive sequences, so they're a lot of fun to watch, especially when the film is populated with such energetic characters.
Continue reading: The Lone Ranger Review
'True Grit' actor Barry Pepper, who plays Captain Fuller in 'The Lone Ranger', talks about the amazing detail and magnificent sets that went into setting the scene for the epic re-making of a legendary children's character.
Dwayne Johnson tries to flex his acting muscles in this smarter-than-usual action movie, based on a true story that gets under our skin. He's never played someone as fragile as this, which is fascinating even if the film ultimately can't resist cranking up the action while turning rather preachy.
Johnson plays John, a construction company owner whose bright 18-year-old son Jason (Gavron) is caught in a drugs sting by an undercover agent (Pepper). Jason is facing 10 years in prison, and offered a way out if he can finger another drug dealer. But he doesn't know any, since he was set up himself. So John makes a deal with a federal prosecutor (Sarandon) to find a big dealer himself. He convinces reluctant ex-con employee Daniel (Bernthal) to work with him, contacting a local dealer (Williams) before going after the kingpin (Bratt). But of course things get increasingly dangerous the deeper they go.
While Johnson's acting chops aren't terribly subtle, he's such a charismatic screen presence that we are fully engaged with him from the start. The tender scenes between him and Gavron add weight to the whole story, while the tetchy connection between him and Bernthal keeps the film on a knife edge. By contrast, Sarandon and Pepper are pretty much just scene-stealing sharks using innocent people to do their dirty work.
Continue reading: Snitch Review
John Reid is a Texas ranger; law-abiding and glad to ride alongside his brother, following in his father's footsteps. However, enforcing the law is the last thing on his mind when his brother is killed in an ambush. When he wakes after the attack, injured, he is confronted by Tonto; a strange Native American spirit warrior who wishes to team up with him and seek justice. Reid must abandon the law, and fight the real crime in the town and so he dons his mask and dubs himself Lone Ranger and with Tonto, vows to protect the people from the impending insidious threat.
Here is the Walt Disney Pictures adaption of the 50s Western TV show 'The Lone Ranger' that first gained public attention as a radio show in the 30s. It's an amusing and truly stunning take on the story featuring an all-star cast with direction from the Oscar winning Gore Verbinski ('Pirates of the Caribbean', 'Rango', 'The Ring', 'Mousetrap'). The screenwriting group includes Oscar nominees Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio ('The Mask of Zorro', 'Pirates of the Caribbean', 'Shrek') as well as Justin Haythe ('The Clearing', 'Revolutionary Road'). The movie is set for release in UK cinemas everywhere from August 9th 2013.
While this thriller plays with themes of political ethics and ambition, it merely lets them simmer in the background. Director Hughes is clearly much more interested in macho posturing and the convoluted scandal-based plot, so he lets the cast members merrily chomp on the scenery but neglects to give us anything that engages our brains.
The broken city of the title is New York, where Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) covered up a shooting involving cop Billy (Walhberg) to protect himself seven years ago. Acquitted but disgraced, Billy is now working as a low-rent private detective when the mayor calls in a favour. He hires Billy to find out who his wife (Zeta-Jones) is having an affair with before it derails his re-election campaign against the passionate rising-star Valliant (Pepper). It doesn't take Billy long to get the incriminating photos, but clearly there's something much bigger at stake here, so he continues to investigate the situation, which uncovers such high-reaching corruption that Billy's life is in danger.
Demonstrating how little the film cares about its characters, Billy's long-time girlfriend (Martinez) is dispatched suddenly after a series of arguments during which she refuses to put up with his boorish, chauvinistic stupidity. Why she stuck with him this long is the real question. But this and other eccentric relationships in the plot are much more interesting than the dull property-development boondoggle that Hughes instead decided to focus on. The problem is that this leaves Wahlberg with the only remotely complex character, an intriguing mess of a man who overreacts wildly to everything and yet seems to want to do the right thing.
Continue reading: Broken City Review
John Reid bears the alias of the Lone Ranger and uses his title and his mask to fight for justice and maintain the law. He's Texas born, never removes his disguise and fights for peace in his troubled town with his Native American friend Tonto who is a spirit warrior with a personality a mile away from that of the Ranger but they still remain loyal companions on their journey to eliminate crime in their quiet town.
It started out as a thirties radio show before becoming a hit TV series in the fifties, and now it has been adapted by Walt Disney Pictures for the silver screen. 'The Lone Ranger' is an exciting contemporary version of this much-loved tale with high-energy action and much in the way of humour. It's a wonderful take on the famous partnership that is masked hero Tonto and his faithful 'kemosabe'. Oscar winning movie genius Gore Verbinski returned to Walt Disney to work on the movie with Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp in his wake having previously worked on the film company's epic film series 'Pirates of the Caribbean'. The screenwriters include the writers of masked crusader 'The Mask of Zorro' Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, with Justin Haythe ('The Clearing', 'Revolutionary Road'). It is set to hit cinemas across the UK on August 9th 2013.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham Carter, Mason Cook, James Frain, Harry Treadaway, Matt O'Leary, W. Earl Brown, Leon Rippy, Timothy V. Murphy, Joaquin Cosio, Damon Herriman, Robert Baker,
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When a young man named Jason accidentally and unwittingly gets caught up in drug dealing with a gang, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of up to 10 years after being wrongly arrested for the crime. His father is a strong believer of his innocence and will do everything in his power to have his son let off. He visits a lawyer who says that he can be granted his liberty if he acts as an informant in the gang and help the police make arrests. However, Jason is too frightened after his ordeal and his father asks instead if he can be the one to go undercover. He does so and uses his construction business to find a manual labourer who may have contacts to the criminal world and be able to offer him an introduction. With the offer of help, he is soon ranked highly in the mob which increases his chances of collecting information, but puts his own life and the lives of his wife and young child at immense risk. Just how far will he go to protect his son from wrongful imprisonment?
'Snitch' is based on the PBS Frontline documentary of the same name which details the increase in the use of informants to reduce prison sentences. It has been directed by Ric Roman Waugh ('In the Shadows', 'Felon') who co-wrote it with Justin Haythe ('The Clearing', 'Revolutionary Road') and is set for release on February 22nd 2013.
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
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Billy Taggart is a less than perfect former police officer who is hired by the newly elected mayor of New York City, Nicholas Hostetler, to investigate his wife Emily Barlow's infidelity and find out exactly who she is romantically involved with. When he manages to acquire photographic evidence after following Barlow for Hostetler, he realises that this is a whole bigger thing and Taggart finds himself stuck in a position he can't get out of, where the mayor plans to discredit him in a major set up upon discovering a few smudges on his police record which could be potential harmful to him. However, it seems that the mayor has chosen the wrong cop to pick on as the unrelenting Taggart will stop at nothing to achieve justice and expose Hostetler as the corrupt politician he is.
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