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
Patricia Clarkson , Dana Friedman - New York premiere of 'Learning To Drive' at The Paris Theatre - Red Carpet Arrivals at Paris Theater - New York City, New York, United States - Monday 17th August 2015
British theatre fans rejoiced when they heard that Bradley Cooper was coming to the West End for a limited UK run of 'The Elephant Man'; a seventies play which made its last revival more than 10 years ago. It's safe to say the UK audience were left just as satisfied as the Broadway spectators, and just as emotionally drained.
I've never seen the play in the past, so my only point of reference was David Lynch's iconic black and white 1980 biopic, which explored the life of John Merrick in all its harrowing destitution. Having recently watched the spectacular revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Cats' and been shocked by how unfamiliar the characters felt, I was therefore left completely gobsmacked when Bradley Cooper opened his mouth and John Hurt's voice came out - totally spot on. All the familiarity you could ask for from a revival play. And his was the only British accent from an American actor during the entire play that never faltered; a remarkable feat given the acute discomfort he must've been feeling throughout.
The play is famous for its avoidance of a mask to imitate the extreme deformity of John Merrick, and so Cooper was forced to maintain an unpleasantly contorted face, stance, gait and hand throughout his time on stage; such dedication that becomes starkly astounding when you try it yourself for just five minutes. There was some initial disappointment when you realised there'd be no Hallowe'en mask, but that dissipated almost immediately - along with the initial chuckles over Cooper's funny face. By the end, you were convinced that the actor was indeed suffering with the same debilitating defects, so when his visage snapped back to the usual handsome features during the standing ovation, it was a startling switch back to reality.
Manhattan book critic Wendy is forced to adjust to a dramatic life change when her husband leaves her for a younger woman, and sets out to reclaim her independence. The problem is, having lived in the Big Apple all her life, she has never learned to drive. So the fiery writer decides to take lessons from Darwan, a softly spoken, patient taxi driver from India who is about to embark on an arranged marriage. As the pair get to know each other behind the wheel, they both learn valuable lessons, and an unlikely friendship develops between these two very different New Yorkers. It's a friendship that will change their lives for ever.
Continue: Learning To Drive Trailer
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.
Currently nominated for Best Original Score Written For The Theatre, rock legend Sting appeared at the 2015 Tony Nominees reception held at the Paramount Hotel in New York, unusually sporting a beard. The singer composed the score for the nautical England set play 'The Last Ship'.
The stars of Broadway's 'The Elephant Man' Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson were spotted laughing and joking together on the red carpet as they arrived for the Meet the 2015 Tony Nominees reception which was held at the Paramount Hotel in New York.
There's nothing particularly original or insightful to set this teen-dystopia thriller apart from the crowd, but strong characters will build some anticipation for the next instalment in the franchise. Unusually for the genre, the film also has a remarkably masculine tone, centring on boyish jostling for control while leaving the women in just two small-but-pivotal roles. On the other hand, it's to thinly plotted that it's pretty forgettable.
The story opens in a scene of disorientation, as teen Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) emerges into the Glade, unable to remember anything about himself or his past. He's the monthly arrival to a community of boys anchored by Alby (Aml Ameen) and the runners who dash into the maze beyond the four tall walls that close in their isolated world. But the maze is full of dangers, and paranoid leader Gally (Will Poulter) thinks Thomas is jeopardising the status quo with his curiosity, bravery and desire to get out. As divisions appear in the community, the game itself seems to be changing as monsters called grievers become more aggressive. Thomas finds allies in Gally's second-in-command Newt (Brodie-Sangster), the lead runner Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and cheery youngster Chuck (Blake Cooper). Then a girl (Kaya Scodelario) arrives carrying a note that says, "She is the last one EVER." And now everyone knows that nothing will be the same again.
Essentially this is Lord of the Flies with the nasty bits taken out, as these boys create a relatively peaceful society until Thomas' arrival signals an apocalypse within the post-apocalypse. Through it all, Thomas has dreams revealing snippets of information about what's really going on here and who's pulling the strings (the fabulous Patricia Clarkson). Meanwhile, he has to learn the mythology of the Glade, which is carefully explained in painfully obvious dialogue ("That's what we call 'the changing'").
Continue reading: The Maze Runner Review
After awakening in a rising elevator with no memory of who he is or what his life was, Thomas finds himself deposited in a strange clearing surrounded by high walls. He is greeted by around 60 other boys, all teenagers, who inform him about their life in The Glade where they are forced to fend for themselves in order to survive. The only escape is a colossal surrounding maze that is frequented everyday by the runners who map out the labyrinth in a bid to find their way out. However, of course nothing is that simple and the boys are not alone in there. Infesting the twists and turns are brutal creatures known as Grievers who will stop at nothing to wipe out the Glade inhabitants. Things get more complicated when the first girl arrives in their midst; the boys are reluctant to trust her especially with the unusual message she presents to them.
Continue: The Maze Runner - Alternative Trailer
Thomas is a young teenager who suddenly awakens to find himself ascending in an elevator to an unknown destination. He has no memory of his life and arrives into a mysterious clearing surrounded by walls filled with around 60 other boys around his age. The clearing is known as The Glade and the inhabitants spend their days trying to survive on minimal resources while periodically venturing into the surrounding maze to look for an escape. Unfortunately, things aren't that simple as they discover that the maze is inhabited by deadly creatures known as Grievers, who are hellbent on destruction. Soon after Thomas' arrival, an unconscious girl is found in the elevator - the first girl to have ever been sent to the The Glade - with an unusual message, and it seems since both their arrivals, everyone's memories are getting a little clearer.
Continue: The Maze Runner Trailer