Movie Review: The Maze Runner: Death Cure (2018)

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Plot: Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”.

Contains minor spoilers

I have experienced a rather good start to the year with new releases. I am still not over the wonderful The Greatest Showman (2018), and I am still listening to its’ soundtrack every single day. I can’t wait to purchase the DVD and show it to everyone I know, so that they too can be as happy as I. It also provided a pitfall for The Death Cure – could anything impress me after I was so ridiculously happy?

Well, The Death Cure didn’t make me as happy (two tonally different films as there ever was), but it did entertain me. The opening sequence, the lead culprit in the massive time delay of the film when Dylan O’Brien was seriously injured on set, is exciting and intense. I also really appreciate a film where the main characters can actually shoot and is not just randomly shooting into thin air – all the actors can be applauded for holding a gun in a manner that shows they’ve had some training.

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The relationship between Thomas (O’Brien) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), is still as tight as ever. They are in this together, and the two actors themselves share a great chemistry on set. I like Newt, he’s such a sarcastic character full of pithy remarks. I still absolutely loathe Theresa – who doesn’t, and even her final attempts at redemption couldn’t convince me to find actual time for her. He doesn’t deserve Thomas or his compassion, and I completed related to my fellow movie goer when he passionately yelled “Can this bitch just die?!” in cinema – although good sir, do not refer to women as bitches, please.

I will perhaps always hate Aiden Gillen (perhaps unfairly). He also plays a devious bastard in The Death Cure, and this does not help him in terms of affection. He is able to play a weak man really well. He meets his fate in The Death Cure in a much more brutal and enjoyable fashion than in Game of Thrones.

The film has a solid progression, and although it did start to feel long I wasn’t terrible irritated by that. There was a stage at about halfway through the film where I wondered how on earth they were planning to wrap things up in the time they had left, but they managed.

Granted that I really didn’t like the second one (I am still not sure what went on there), this film turned out remarkably well. The Death Cure is not perfect – I felt that half of the female stars had no acting power, and they are, as always, very underrepresented. I always enjoy a dystopian setting that turns out to be some clinical trial drama – that is essentially what Divergent and The Maze Runner boils down to – what ethical values are governments willing to forsake of their people when faced with a massive viral disaster? This is my food man. However, it should be noted that the rights of a patient will never be compromised for the advancement of science, thank you very much.

Overall, The Death Cure did just fine as my second film for this year. That guy with the hollowed out cheeks and funky attitude was proper badass and had an epic moment or two. Eyebrows returning – he looks like he waxed his eyebrows, and I still think it must be a challenged to be permanently surprised. I’ve never read these books, so I can’t compare it to the source material, but as a dystopian film it works well and rounds of the series just fine.

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: Scorch Trials (2015)

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Plot: After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.

Thoughts:

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Littlefinger. I somehow know that he’s going to be a villain. No hope that he has moral fiber. Aiden Gillen wasn’t the most satisfying villain. There is something about polo necks that lacks the essence of masterminded evil, and more importantly, Gillen seems unconvinced about his role.

Security doors in Scorch Trials are opened by mere handles. Seems very secure.

The scene where they are relinquishing their only weapon to their friend that is becoming a zombie – Can we just talk about how stupid this is? Shoot the guy, he’s indicated that he wants to die, and take your weapon. You know, to protect yourself.

The best thing about this film is that they found water in the very first building they entered.

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Let’s just quickly focus on these buildings – why are they looking like that? I need to know how buildings can be utterly destroyed by the sun. Windows are out, buildings have fallen over each other. There wasn’t a specific war, earthquake or tornado. Those are the things I’d think would lead to buildings being completely destroyed.

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This villain woman. Does she think she’s Gandalf the White?

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This Teresa chick. She’s irritating AF with her judgy little face. Her biggest issue is that she lost her mother due to zombitis. Well, sorry, but now every teenager must give up their enzymes??

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The new girl is at least better than Teresa. She obviously has more moral fiber than Teresa, and all in all I’d like her more to end up with beautiful Thomas. I’m appreciative that we finally have a girl in this movie that isn’t completely repulsive or evil.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster – I like him. He does a good job with being a leader and a voice of reason.

So here’s my issue with the whole Scorched world – why am I seeing green trees in this scene?

New definition for Dystopia: A story perpetuating the myth that teenagers matter.

Rating: 6/10

Both movies so far have been really lopsided. The first one is arguably better, but I am still not all that sure what the hell is going on. I think reading the books would help, but I’ve heard from reputable sources that I’d pull my hair out with the writing that is going on in there. Apparently Scorch Trials are also one of those “incredibly loosely based” adaptions, so reading the books won’t help all that much. I do know now that Thomas is planning to fetch Asian Zac Efron and save his life. And hopefully pop Teresa and Gandalf while he’s at it.

Movie Review: Insurgent (2015)

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Plot: Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side.

Rating: 5.5/10

I’m not gonna lie or even make this a terribly long post. WHAT are they doing with these movies? The books are awesome – I recently reviewed the first one here after reading it AGAIN (and I don’t often reread Dystopian novels). Let’s just take a look what they are doing right in here:

Tris Prior – Shailene Woodley

I think she does a good job as Tris. She might not be the best choice or someone I would think to cast in here, but she does fine. I actually thought her acting was much better in here than the first movie.

Theo James – Tobias Eaton

He is better in here. And still quite hunky. Although I will always think of him as Lord Pamouk, he has excellent chemistry with Woodley – have you seen those rumours?

Miles Teller – I think this guy makes a great asshole on screen. I’m sure he is quite nice in real life, but he has such a douchebaggy face. Teller is also always able to inject character depth into his roles when the writing lacks, and that is such a good thing in this case. This isn’t his best role – I mean have you seen Whiplash, but he does really good.

What doesn’t work:

Ansel Elgort as Caleb Prior – I love Elgort, I do. I just can’t see him as the spineless worm that is Tris’ brother.

Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews – maybe they didn’t give her enough time to develop the character, but I was completely unimpressed by her in here.

Octavia Spencer as the leader of Amity – again, so little screen time allotted to this character that her acting abilities could not be properly utilized.

The complete deviation from the storyline in the books. I am not against changing some stuff from book to movie to make the movie flow easier, but at this point I have no idea how they plan to bring the movies to the point how the last book ends.

The movie loses pace and becomes terribly boring at the end – in fact, I have to watch the last half hour probably again.

Insurgent could have been more. It has little heart and keeps slipping further and further away from its storyline. The Hunger Games still leads dominantly in the Dystopian genre, and I don’t think that will change because it seems that Hollywood has become incapable to properly portray books at this point.

Movie Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)

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My name is Kathy H. I’m 28 years old. I’ve been a carer for nine years. And I’m good at my job. My patients always do better than expected, and are hardly ever classified as agitated, even if they’re about to make a donation. I’m not trying to boast, but I feel a great sense of pride in what we do. Carers and donors have achieved so much. That said, we aren’t machines. In the end it wears you down. I suppose that’s why I now spend most of my time not looking forwards, but looking back, to The Cottages and Hailsham, and what happened to us there. Me. Tommy. And Ruth.

Plot:

In 1952 life changed for people. Life expectancy ballooned to beyond a 100 years. Fast forwarding, a young man (Andrew Garfield) lies on a table smiling at a woman behind the glass watching him. The woman is Kathy H (Carey Mulligan), 28 years old, and as the narrator for Never Let Me Go she introduces herself as a Carer.

Kathy H thinks back to her youth spent at a boarding school Halisham. The children at Halisham are freakishly well behaved and follow orders without protest. Young Kathy (Izzy Meikle-Small) is friends with Ruth (Ella Purnell) and Tommy (Charlie Rowe), a boy who is always being teased by his classmates, especially Ruth. The school children are encouraged to develop their art skills in the hope to get their work up in “the Gallery”.

The new teacher at school, Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins) struggles to make peace with the children’s fate. She tells the children they are clones, destined to become organ donors in their early twenties, and will eventually die, or “complete” after an average of four organ removals. The next day the headmistress (Charlotte Rampling) informs the school that Miss Lucy has left, presumably fired because she told the children the truth.

Kathy and Tommy start developing feelings for each other, but Ruth intervenes and steals Tommy away from Kathy. Kathy is heartbroken but she doesn’t fight for Tommy back, and he doesn’t seem to be upset by the arrangements either.

A few years later the children are now teenagers, and they leave school to be rehoused in cottages on a farm. They are permitted to wander into town but they are still required to sign in with their bracelets every night. Kathy finds porn magazines and pages through them, and Tommy finds her but isn’t very shocked. Ruth (Keira Knightley) cruelly teases Kathy about this and Kathy is forced to listen to Tommy and Ruth’s lovemaking every night.

Kathy, Ruth and Tommy meat other clones from similar schools on the farm. They tell them that they maybe saw the person Ruth may have been cloned from, a “possible”. They all head into town to investigate but the woman only slightly resembles Ruth and she is upset and tells them they are all cloned from “trash” like criminals and prostitutes.

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Another rumour running around is the possibility of “deferral” – a temporary stalling of donating your organs if you are deeply in love with another clone and can prove it. Tommy is convinced that the Gallery can see your soul through your artwork and that they can verify true love.

When Ruth and Tommy continue their relationship, Kathy chooses to become a “carer” for some distance between her and the couple. A carer is a clone who is given temporary leave to take care of donors who have begun their donating. Ruth and Tommy break up before Kathy leaves but she is already on her way.

Ten years later Kathy is still working as a Carer. By chance she sees Ruth again who is very frail after two donations. Together they find Tommy, who has also given two donations. Ruth asks them to go to the sea and they comply with her wishes. She asks them forgiveness for her selfishness in keeping them apart and that she always knew they were supposed to be together. Ruth gives them the address of the Madame, the alleged leader of the Gallery in the hopes that it can be established that Tommy and Kathy are in love and have some years together. Kathy is reluctant but agrees it is worth a try. Ruth shortly dies afterwards on the operation table.

Kathy and Tommy finally start their long overdue relationship. Tommy is weak from his donations but together they visit the Madame (Natalie Richard), who lives with Halisham’s old school principle. They tell them that the rumours of deferrals are lies and that there has never been such a thing. The Madame tells them that the Gallery was not there to look into their souls; it was to establish that they even had souls. Broken, they leave and Tommy asks Kathy to stop the car. He finally breaks down, releasing years of pent up rage and frustration. Sobbing, they hold onto each other, knowing their love is doomed.

Returning back to the first shot, Kathy watches as Tommy gets anaesthetised for his third donation. It is his last one and he dies during it. At the ending, Kathy is still alive, but plans to start with her donations as she doesn’t want a slightly longer life as a Carer anymore because Tommy is dead.

Rating: 6.5/10

Never Let Me Go was so strange. It was one of the movies where you want to ask at the end of it: “Really? That’s the end?”

It was based on a book and apparently well done so, but I was constantly waiting for revolution. Did they really not have souls? That is the only way I can understand people not fighting for their lives. They were indoctrinated, sure, but shouldn’t your survival instinct kick in when you know death is near? The doctors are removing your organs, dammit. I thought the three characters were displaying their souls constantly – Kathy was way too sweet and kind to be without a soul, Ruth was horrible and I think that requires a soul, albeit a black one, and Tommy displays his emotions the most and that obviously proves the existence of his.

The dreary English weather definitely contributed to the morose atmosphere of the movie. It was utterly depressing and yet strangely beautiful at the same time.

Carey Mulligan was again cast excellently as Kathy. She seemed innocent and well informed at the same time, not really seeking answers but open to them and so hopeless and accepting of her fate. I desperately wished for her to rip off her bracelet and run. Tommy was weak and very stupid to let Ruth ruin his life like that, because no matter how horrendous Ruth acted as Kathy’s friend, it takes two to tango.

I really, really dislike Keira Knightley. That insufferable pout is so annoying and the way she talks is irritating beyond belief. So, she was in fact excellently cast as Ruth because Ruth is such a horrible character. Ruth was selfish and cruel – if she really wanted a few more years because of the whole love defecting idea – Harisham had plenty of boys she could choose from, Tommy was NOT the only choice available.

I always get a little queasy watching movies of clinical trials / cloning / donating because they aren’t all that off the mark when looking at history. People will always find a way to justify their actions, and I am truly grateful that human cloning is still an impossible task. Never Let Me Go is obviously way out of the range of possibility, but I can’t help but wonder what will happen to the world, desperate for donors, when cloning is realized one day.

This is a deep, reflective movie about life and accepting death. It is not going to cheer you up after a bad day or make you feel positive about the hope for humanity. It is still excellently done and recommended for its’ strong message on life and the questionability of the ethics of the human race.