Maze runner Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the other ‘Gladers’ must find a way out of their prison.

Well this was a lot better than I expected. For a film aimed at a teenage audience it’s surprisingly mature. There is still the slight dilution and warping of real life that comes with a film aimed at this demographic (think Twilight, Harry Potter etc) but it’s still pretty good, and fairly strong stuff considering.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in a cargo lift, and is immediately violently sick. He has no memory of how he got there, of anything in fact – not even his name at this point. When the lift reaches its destination he finds himself in ‘The Glade’, an idyllic woody and grassy plain with a group of around 80 other teenage boys. None of them know why they are there and it emerges that all of them reached The Glade in exactly the same way and in the same amnesiac state as Thomas. The Glade is surrounded by ‘The Maze’, a stone and mechanical construction that is seemingly the boys’ only way out of The Glade – except in 3 years no one has yet found the exit.

The boys are able to make shelters from trees in The Glade and grow crops to survive but violence is ever-present there too. Anyone trapped in the maze at night will become prey to the murderous Grievers (huge bio-mechanical spider-like enemies with blades for legs). The Grievers aren’t the only danger – there are comparisons to be made with Lord Of The Flies, and the name George crossed off form a roster of the boys names coupled with a grave found in the woods, hints at serious infighting in the past. With Peter’s curiosity and intelligence making him stand out, he soon begins to attract the hostile attentions of Gally (Will Poulter) a much bigger boy who sees him as a threat.

Generally the story is well-told but there are annoyances including just a bit too much hinting and not enough explanation in the early part of the film. Peter : “What happens to boys who get trapped in the maze at night?”. *Enigmatic look*, “Take my word for it – you just don’t want to be there ok”. Peter : “What’s this for?” *Amused look*,  “You’ll find out soon enough..” Yes, this kind of thing – a lot. At first it’s tolerable but soon it starts to grate – and you’ll just want Peter to shout for a straight answer.

Acting among the young cast is generally good, although it is variable with accents slipping at times. Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) – the only female in the group – seems to have a very minor role, considering her dramatic entrance. But her character will no doubt be expanded on in future films.

I thought the ending was terrible initially (Hint : it’s a worse version of what you were expecting) but I did like the later twist on it and also it’s duplicity. This also leaves room for a Maze Runner 2. (Out now, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) I haven’t read the book(s) but I’d like to find out what is really going on. My personal theory is that the whole thing, everything, is just a simulation and they are all still stuck in those liquid filled tubes in the laboratory. But what do I know?

Surprisingly good. The sort of film I would have loved when I was a teenager. 7/10  (definitely add a point if you *are* a teenager.)

“That’s Raphael on the right – they made him look so tough!”.

“Cowabunga Dudes!!” I’m Michelangelo and I’ll be reviewing this film about me and my friends.

This is the fifth film made about us. Awesome! It features lots of pizza. Woah! I like how using CGI and real people for the movements, they have made us look darker and meaner in this film. Yeah!

Shredder and his Foot Clan minions sure make life a misery for us and our friend Megan Fox… I mean ‘April’! I really think this version of April is better than the original. She’s totally hot.

This movie would be completely bodacious if they had put some work into the story. But it’s just embarrassing. Shredder looks like a robot and the plot is like that time Donatello puked up pizza – all over the place!!

My final scores:

Us (The Turtles) : 8/10
Beginning of Film = Good!
Rest of film = Some bogus sh*t.

Overall : 4/10

When staying in a old house in the woods still seemed like a great idea…

This is one of those horror films that does a lot right – here it’s a superb slow set-up, with a mature and realistic depiction of a relationship between newly weds Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) who are on their honeymoon in an old house in the woods. It’s clear they know each other intimately, and want to please each other. If one is upset the other immediately realises and will try to fix things.This means for a good part of the introduction this doesn’t feel like a horror film. It’s more like a relationship drama – and so all the better to shock you by suddenly introducing something horrifying.

One night Bea disappears into the woods, and Paul finds her cold and naked – without the night shirt she had on earlier – and with strange marks on her legs. From this moment on her behaviour seems different. She insists it’s just because she’s still a bit confused since the ‘sleep walking’ incident. But Paul starts to become more and more sure that something is wrong with Bea and that as strange as it may sound, that actually maybe Bea, is no longer Bea…

The closeness between Bea and Paul that I mentioned earlier is important, not just for the new marriage but also because it’s used to make it clear to the viewer that Bea is behaving oddly. At first Paul only picks up on subtle things that seem different. For example, when Bea would have laughed or cried previously – she no longer does. She also inexplicably uses the wrong terms for things or objects.

Predictably though, after such a good start, the horror aspect of the film when it does arrive – isn’t horrific enough. Usually in a horror film when you see the ‘creature’, the film becomes less frightening. However that’s because it’s usually already been presented in an immature and shallow way. There will often be a bunch of teens who you don’t care about and who you know are going to get killed. Here however, after a more realistic set-up, the film could have done with an actual genuinely scary creature or creatures to shock you – but sadly no visible creatures ever arrive. There’s a bit of body-shock horror, some implied ‘creatures’ and some nicely twisted manipulative logic used by these ‘creatures’. You’ll know what I mean when you see the wife of Bea’s friend Will, telling Paul that “Will is hiding”, and when you realise what this means at the end of the film.

For the most part this is a good film, it’s often compulsive viewing and the acting is of a high standard. It perhaps could have played on ambiguity a bit more – maybe have made the viewer worry more that Paul is losing it instead of Bea, but mostly it’s well done. Ultimately though it’s a disappointing movie because it’s a mature treatment of the genre and it could have been something special but instead it just ends up touting the same half-scary low-budget bullsh*t you see in every other ‘mature’ horror film at the moment. 6/10

A rare moment showing Optimus Prime actually winning a fight against the human-made Galvatron. It doesn’t last for long…

First of all this is the worst Transformers film I have seen, and given the low standards of the other 3 films, that means it’s pretty bad. There’s no Shia LaBeouf this time, Megan Fox was of course booted out long ago after making disparaging comments about the first and second film (She had a point given the snore-fest that was Transformers 2) and finding yet another hot girlfriend (after Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the 3rd film) for a guy who hangs around with toy robots would have probably pushed the boundaries of credibility a little too far.

This time Mark Wahlberg takes the lead role as inventor dad Cade Yeager. His daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and her boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) fill the other 2 protagonist slots. Strangely – for a family film – his 17 year old daughter’s relationship with Shane.. a 21 year old Irish rally driver is actually illegal in most states. Making you wonder what exactly the reason for its inclusion is? I suspect it’s just so they could have a ‘hot’ teen girl (the primary audience for these films are teenage boys ) and a boyfriend who can drive everyone about at high speed. In fact this is what is interesting about Transformers 4. Everything happens for a reason – the reason usually being found in our world. So the film is set in the US (the biggest film market in the world), but then halfway through relocates wholesale to China (conveniently the second biggest film market in the world). Chinese actors also come to the fore at this point and it’s amusing to hear such propaganda as “We must ask the CENTRAL GOVERNMENT for help” as a huge alien spaceship enters Hong Kong and then later this response from Shanghai: “The CENTRAL GOVERNMENT will not leave Hong Kong to stand alone”. Yes China – you are great!

There’s some shockingly blatant product placement, which you get the idea was done obviously on purpose to be funny. Especially since two of the products  – Bud Light and a Chinese drink are spat out by the people drinking them. By far the best product placement though is when arrogant scientist Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) is showing off the newly discovered element ‘Transformium’ (the worst named element since Unobtanium in Avatar) and he transformers a chunk of it into a spiral and then into a gun and finally into a Beats Pill speaker – “..even a BEATS PILL WIRELESS SPEAKER if you want to listen to some music”.

I haven’t talked much about the story because its the dullest part of the film. It starts off ok but then after a while it’s just action sequence after action sequence. Michael Bay again forgets the rule that you need quiet meaningful bits in-between to make the exciting action parts actually seem exciting. While this may be the worst Transformers film so far, you can still get some enjoyment from watching the giant robots kick the crap out of each other. Bumblebee is still great. Optimus Prime still annoying (that voice), and still bizarrely loses almost every fight he is in.The final fight in which humans and transformers coordinate to bring Lockdown down *is* pretty good, and did I mention… I really feel like a BUD LIGHT right now… That’s right – it would be really great to drink a BUD LIGHT right now..

4 for the film  + 1 for the giant robots = 5/10

Liz (Kate Ashfield), Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) get ready to repel the zombie horde.

(Obviously) I’ve seen this before but I wanted to watch it again. It’s clever because it knows that you know it’s going to be a zombie film and it teases you. Is that a zombie or just Shaun (Simon Pegg) stumbling and moaning because it’s early in the morning? Wait that is a zombie! oh.. no it’s just a supermarket worker. Definitely a crowd of zomb…  no just teenagers shuffling along with headphones on. At the same time as making you smile it’s also a clever social commentary on the detached nature of modern life.

Eventually when the zombie epidemic does begin. There’s lots of laughs, tension and action as Shaun assembles a group of survivors – which include his mum (Penelope Wilton), his friend Ed (Nick Frost), his long suffering girlfriend Lizzy (Kate Ashfield), and in Shaun’s words “failed actress” Dianne (Lucy Davies) and her “twat” boyfriend David (Dylan Moran) – and attempts to lead them to safety. Shaun’s idea of safety however is pretty much the same as his idea of a good night out – hiding out at the Winchester tavern. Where beer is freely available and bar snacks are plentiful.

Watching this for the 2nd time now I noticed that many lines of dialogue gain new meaning. For example pre-zombie epidemic, Ed says to Pete after an argument  “Next time I see you, you’re dead”, and he is of course. Pete also says to Ed: “You want to behave like an animal. Go live in the shed”. By the end of the film – Ed is living in the shed. There also movie references to spot. For example “Kill the Queen” (Aliens or Resident Evil) in reference to the zombie-attracting jukebox starting to play Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” at the same time as a horde of zombies are lurking outside the pub.

One of the best zombie films out there and funny as well. Even if you’ve seen it before you’ll enjoy it. 8/10

“Don’t move or my friend executes the bread”. De Niro and Statham do their best to seem tough.

“Life is like sucking honey from a thorn”. It’s a great quote spoken by the character of Hunter (Robert De Niro) in the film. Unfortunately there’s more spiky thorn than honey in this offering. Put simply this film really isn’t very good. It’s near dreadful for the most part and only picks up towards the end. So what’s wrong with it? Well for a start Jason Statham is the lead character. I always think of him as a B-list action hero, he can play “silent and enigmatic” very well but anything else (charismatic for example) severely stretches his abilities.

On this occasion Statham plays Danny Bryce, a contract killer. The film is set in the 80s to the soundtrack of the Clash and The Sex Pistols, there are no mobile phones and the characters drive thin-shelled (they didn’t worry about safety then) angular 80’s cars. Bryce’s friend and fellow assassin Hunter (De Niro) is taken hostage and Bryce is forced to take an assignment which involves killing 3 members of the elite British special forces – the SAS. Not an easy mission but made harder because ex-SAS Officer Spike Logan (Clive Owen) is on to him. Will Stratham complete his task or will Logan get to him first?

Robert De Niro really only plays a bit part as Hunter – Bryce’s mentor and friend – and you get the impression he’s only here for the money. The film isn’t very exciting and the first hour seems to be filled with ugly exaggerated caricatures of SAS men (the only accurate point seems to be that they have a lot of facial hair). The film improves for the last half hour but it’s still a largely dull turgid mess of a film, and appropriately, considering Statham is in it, feels like a B-movie action-flick and not one that is worth watching either. 4/10

“For the next 134 minutes let’s not say much to each other”. “Yep”

I have to be honest -while not (knowingly at least) homophobic, a film about two gay cowboys tending sheep on a mountain just didn’t appeal to me. So it was more with a sense of duty than anticipation that I started watching this. It is hard work at first – it starts slow. Yes beautiful scenery but still slow and I initially saw both Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as actors pretending to be cowboys rather than real cowboys. However give it 20 minutes or so and it gets better, there’s more interaction (not just that sort) between the leads, and you begin to settle into the story. Somewhat ironically given the title, it only really gets going and becomes interesting as a film when the two come back down from Brokeback Mountain. 

Four years later and forced into ‘normal’ lives by the expectations and the always present threat of violence from society – both are now married with children. Deep down though neither is happy. Ledger tells Gyllenhaal during an rare meeting that they can never properly be together and have to keep living their sham lives – he recounts a horrific story from childhood about 2 men who lived together on a ranch and how one was “beaten by an iron bar, and dragged around by his d*ck until it came off and left to die”. You get a real sense of the tragic hopelessness that came with a homosexual relationship for a cowboy at this time. (the film begins in the 1960s)

Despite my initial misgivings both actors are actually very good in their roles and Ledger especially shines as the more masculine and monosyllabic of the two. He manages to convey an amazing amount with just a few facial gestures and words. The film is also a hell of a lot better than many movies about straight cowboys.

Interesting and touching but should have been heartbreaking too (things falls down a bit here with a far too detached portrayal of a very dramatic event late in the story) 7/10


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 69 other followers