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.
Continue: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Trailer
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.
Lili Taylor - A variety of stars were photographed as they arrived for The New Group 20th Anniversary Gala which was held at the Tribeca Rooftop in New York City, New York, United States - Monday 9th March 2015
While the story centres on twisted moral dilemmas, this 1970s-set thriller takes such a hesitant, internalised approach that if never lets viewers under the characters' skin. As a result, there's virtually no spark of real life here, despite the presence of several fine actors and a twisty plot that focusses on how decisions affect relationships. It's an oddly muted approach to events that really should have a much stronger emotional jolt.
It's 1974 Brooklyn, where Chris (Clive Owen) has just been released after 10 years in prison. His police detective brother Frank (Billy Crudup) offers help with finding a place to stay, getting a job and escaping his former life of crime, but the options are limited. While trying to reconnect with his junkie-prostitute ex Monica (Marion Cotillard), Chris also begins dating the younger Natalie (Mila Kunis). And he finds himself drifting back into his old gangster role. This causes a conflict of interest for Frank in his work as a cop, especially since he's further compromised by having an affair with Vanessa (Zoe Saldana), whose boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) he's just put in jail.
Filmmaker Guillaume Canet is remaking the 2008 French thriller Rivals (in which he played the Frank character), and he recreates the period beautifully, shooting the film in a grainy 1970s style that emphasises character over action. So it's odd that the characters feel so thinly written, with most of the ambiguity drained from each moral issue they face. Much of this is because everyone is pushing their emotions away and internalising their thought processes so no one else can see them. But this leaves the audience out in the cold. And as a result, everything feels obvious and inevitable, which makes it impossible to get involved as events escalate. It's as if these people are tragic losers, so no amount of sympathy will save them.
Continue reading: Blood Ties Review
Frank is a remarkable cop with a lot to look forward to in his life, but as happy as he is, he still has major worries for the people around him. His brother Chris has just been released from prison after a gang-related murder several years ago. Frank wants to make sure Chris stays on the straight and narrow as he rebuilds his shattered life, and offers him shelter, a job and an opportunity to restore his relationships with his former wife Monica and his children. However, Chris also finds himself reconnecting with some old 'friends' and it soon becomes clear that he has no intention of living straight. All Frank wants is a happy and secure family, but if he keeps trying to save his wayward brother's back from the law, he could find himself facing an uncertain future in the force.
'Blood Ties' is the Hollywood re-make of Jacques Maillot's 2008 French film 'Les liens du sang' which is also adapted from the novel by Bruno and Michel Papet. It has been directed by Guillaume Canet ('Little White Lies', 'Tell No One', 'Whatever You Say') and co-written by James Gray ('Two Lovers', 'We Own the Night', 'The Yards') and is due to appear in theatres on March 21st 2014.
The latest series from JH Wyman has won some critical acclaim already, but some still need convincing
Almost Human is the latest series from Fringe creator JH Wyman, working under Jj Abrams' Bad Robot banner and airing on Fox last night (17 Nov.). Set 35 years in the future, in a world where police officers are partnered with human-like androids, the show stars Karl Urban and Michael Ealy as they combat a crime-filled Los Angeles in a show that has already shown some early promise, a handful of critics agree.
Karl Urban stars alongside Michael Ealy on Almost Human
Urban and Ealy, starring as Detective John Kennex and the DRN model android Dorian respectively, are the show's odd couple and central characters and despite their differences, by the end of the series premiere alone it becomes pretty clear that they make a formidable pair. They are just two parts of a pretty wicked ensemble cast that also includes Joe Smith, Mackenzie Crook, Lili Taylor and Minka Kelly, but in spite of all the big names, Almost Human is still struggling to win everyone over with its first episode.
Continue reading: 'Almost Human' Is Almost Worth Getting Exciting About
Fox has pushed back its premiere date for 'Almost Human' in order to take advantage of post NFL viewing.
Fox has chosen to delay the premiere of its new science fiction series Almost Human. The network has decided to postpone the premiere, originally set for 4th November, until the 17th and 18th when the first two episodes will be shown in a special two night event. Fox is cashing in on the NFL lead-in broadcast on Sunday 17th.
Karl Urban stars in Almost Human.
Following the special two night event, Almost Human will air every Monday at 8pm. This will set Almost Human alongside Sleepy Hollow, which is hugely successful and prime science fiction fan viewing. For two weeks, according to the LA Times, Bones will also air on a Monday night until it changes to its Friday slot on 15th November.
Continue reading: Fox Delays 'Almost Human' Premiere To Cash In On NFL Viewing
'The Conjuring' is released in UK cinemas today. Released in the US two weeks ago, the horror movie has already grossed over $92 million.
The Conjuring is released in UK cinemas today (2nd August). It's been a surprise summer box office hit in the US, but will the British respond in the same way?
Vera Farmiga at the premiere of Bates Motel held at Soho House in L.A.
The Conjuring had a brilliant opening weekend, gaining $41.5 million and warding off big-budget films such as R.I.P.D., Despicable Me 2 and Turbo. Since then the film has known no bounds: as of 31st July, The Conjuring had made over $92 million. A significant sum considering it was released in the US only two weeks ago.
The Wolverine has placed at number one in the US Weekend Box Office. This latest instalment in the X-Men franchise has proved popular with audiences but less so with critics.
The Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman, has placed at number one in the US Weekend Box Office. The latest instalment in the X-Men franchise sees Wolverine a.k.a. Logan visit Japan in order to face his past. The movie continues the story of X-Men: The Last Stand in which we saw Wolverine forced to kill Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). Also starring alongside Jackman are Hiroyuki Sanada (Sunshine) and models Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukishima.
Hugh Jackman with Tao Okamoto (L) and Rila Fukashima (R) at the London premiere of The Wolverine.
Those who have commented positively on The Wolverine have said the film creates a diverse character which "pumps some feeling into the guy along with his muscles and steel talons" (Geoff Pevere - Globe and Mail). Others, such as Toronto Star's critic Raju Mudhar, have praised the production team for ensuring the "superhero/Asian crime drama mash-up" is successful.
Old-style filmmaking makes this movie scarier than other recent horror films, simply because director Wan (Saw/Insidious) takes the time to actually develop suspense. By not using cheap trickery, he continually sends chills up our spine. So it's a shame that the story isn't more original, merely pasting together every haunted house cliche imaginable into what's apparently based on real events, but is clearly fictionalised.
Real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga) investigated a series of hauntings, possessions and other supernatural events over their career. Their most famous case is Amityville, while this story has apparently only recently been released. It involves the Perron family, which experiences all kinds of strange phenomena when they move into a Rhode Island house in 1971. Carolyn (Taylor) starts having freaky nightmares accompanied by nasty bruising, while Roger (Livingston) struggles to cope with the odd behaviour of their five daughters (Caswell, McFarland, King, Foy and Deaver). As the Warrens determine that this is a case of demonic possession, things get even crazier.
The plot is set out as a fairly straightforward investigation, as the Warrens try to get proof of possession so they can call in a priest. Filmmaker Wan uses this to lure us into a false sense of security, quietly taking us through long scenes in which nothing much happens before gently turning the screws then shocking us with something intensely creepy. Some of this is rather obvious (like a nasty-looking doll or an evil-sounding music box), but it's such sure-handed filmmaking that it can't help but make us squirm in our seats.
Continue reading: The Conjuring Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
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