Monthly Archives: September 2015

We Review: The Scorch Trials “4 stars, A must see for fans of teen survival drama” – MR

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Maze-Runner-The-Scorch-Trials-Poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wes Ball
Produced by
Screenplay by T.S. Nowlin
Based on The Scorch Trials
byJames Dashner
Starring
Music by John Paesano[1]
Cinematography Gyula Pados
Edited by Don Zimmerman
Production
company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • September 18, 2015(United States)
Running time
131 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $61 million[3]
Box office $124.2 million[4]

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (also known simply as The Scorch Trials) is a 2015 American dystopianscience fictionactionthriller film based on James Dashner‘s novel The Scorch Trials, the second novel in The Maze Runner trilogy. The film is the sequel to the 2014 film The Maze Runner and the second installment in The Maze Runner film series. It was directed by Wes Ball, with a screenplay by T.S. Nowlin. Adding to the original film’s cast of Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, and Patricia Clarkson, the new supporting cast includes Rosa Salazar, Jacob Lofland, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor and Alan Tudyk.

The plot of The Scorch Trials takes place immediately after the previous installment, with Thomas (O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers battling the powerful organization W.C.K.D, while facing the perils of the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with dangerous obstacles. Filming began in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 27, 2014, and officially concluded on January 27, 2015.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trialswas released in select international territories starting September 9, 2015 in 2D, 3D, 4DX and Barco Escape, and was released on September 18, 2015 in the United States in 2D and Premium Large Format theaters, by 20th Century Fox. It was originally set to be released in IMAX, but this was cancelled, as Everest had all worldwide IMAX screens booked until the release of the film The Walk. Like its predecessor, the film was a commercial success grossing $30.3 million on its opening weekend, making it the ninth-highest grossing debut in September.[4] The film went to the No. 1 spot during its opening weekend, and has currently earned $124 million worldwide.

The Scorch Trials received mixed reviews, with some critics calling it an improvement over its predecessor – commending its action sequences and performances – while others criticized the film for its lack of plot and character advancement. According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it received a lower rating than the previous installment. A sequel, titled Maze Runner: The Death Cure, is scheduled to be released on February 17, 2017.

Plot

The film begins with a young boy, Thomas, taken in by Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) and her organization WCKD, after being dropped off by his guardian for his own safety. Years later, shortly after being rescued fromthe maze trials, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the remaining Gladers – Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa Agnes (Kaya Scodelario), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Winston (Alexander Flores) – are taken to a facility run by Mr. Janson (Aidan Gillen). He explains that the facility is a safe haven, protecting them from WCKD, the Flare virus and the Cranks, and provides them clothes, food, and sanitation, where there are other survivors of multiple mazes are also present. Thomas becomes curious about their activities and manages to find out what is really happening behind the closed doors. With help from Aris Jones (Jacob Lofland), the first maze survivor to end up in the facility, it is revealed that WCKD’s leader, Ava, is still alive and that Mr. Janson is working for WCKD, as they discuss about the experiment on the Immunes and that Janson has yet to find The Right Arm, a resistance group located at the mountains. The group, including Aris, escapes the facility, as Janson orders his WCKD troops to track them down, where they find themselves in the deserted outside world – the Scorch.

The group arrive at an abandoned marketplace, where they first encounter with the Cranks, humans zombified by the Flare virus. Winston gets infected by one of the them in the process. When morning comes, they find the city has turned into ruins and that WCKD is still searching for them. Winston’s infection gets worse, forcing the rest of the group to leave him alone to die by shooting himself, preventing his transformation. The group continues to venture the desert until one night, while sleeping in the middle of the desert, Thomas awakens and discovers civilization from far away. As a thunderstorm emerges, they run to an abandoned facility to keep them from the storm. Minho gets struck by the lightning, but he survives. They manage to enter the place, only to find out that the facility they entered was filled with chained Cranks. The group meets Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito), who lead a dangerous band of survivors and have used the Cranks as their own guard dogs. When the two find that the group had come from WCKD and is looking for the Right Arm, the two agree to take them to the Right Arm, abandoning their group of survivors. Moments later, WCKD, led by Janson, storms the place, only for the facility to be destroyed by Jorge’s explosives, while Thomas and Brenda are left behind as the rest have escaped with Jorge. Thomas and Brenda manage to escape the Cranks, only for Brenda to get infected by a Crank in the process. Thomas experiences a flashback of when he and Teresa were working for WCKD, in which Thomas tries to warn Teresa of WCKD’s plans, only for the two to be separated by WCKD’s troops. As Thomas and Brenda reunite with the rest of the group, Jorge interrogates Marcus (Alan Tudyk), a survivor who secretly works for WCKD, into revealing the whereabouts of The Right Arm.

 

Cast

Our Thoughts

This movie was cool. I like the idea of it all, but the characters do many stupid things throughout the film that real survivors would never do. Still, that is what teenagers do in reality, so I suppose it isn’t too much of a negative. The twists and turns of the plot keep you guessing, and it is worth the price of a premium ticket, just for the vivid effects, and wickedly well done dystopian scenery. 4 – stars, and recommended to all. But a must see for all the fans of this type of teen survival drama – MR

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We Review: Black Mass “Depp gets Academy Award or the Oscars are rigged.” – MR

Black Mass (film)

Black Mass (film) poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Scott Cooper
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Black Mass
by Dick Lehr
and Gerard O’Neill
Starring
Music by Junkie XL[1]
Cinematography Masanobu Takayanagi
Edited by David Rosenbloom[2]
Production company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • September 4, 2015 (Venice)[3]
  • September 18, 2015(United States)[4]
Running time
122 minutes[5]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $53 million[6]
Box office $30.1 million[7]

Black Mass is a 2015 American crime film directed by Scott Cooper and written by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, based on the 2001 bookBlack Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. The film stars Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard, Rory Cochrane, Adam Scott, Dakota Johnson, and Corey Stoll.

The film follows the criminal career of infamous Irish-American mobsterWhitey Bulger (Depp). Principal photography of the film began on May 19, 2014 in Boston, and wrapped on August 1, 2014. The film had its world premiere at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival,[8] and was released by Warner Bros. worldwide on September 18, 2015.[9]

Plot (Spoilers)
In 1975, James “Whitey” Bulger, a small-time gangster and leader of the Irish-AmericanWinter Hill Gang, controls almost all of organized crime within South Boston, along with his right-hand man Stephen Flemmi, newcomer Kevin Weeks, and cold and calculative hitman, Johnny Martorano. Bulger’s hold over South Boston is challenged by the northern Angiulo Brothers, a rising and powerful family group with ties to the mafia.

An interesting opportunity arises with the return of John Connolly to South Boston; Connolly being a former native of the area and friend of Whitey and his brother, William “Billy” Bulger, a Boston senator. Connolly’s advancement within his position in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) pressures him into attempting to find a way to go after the Angiulo Brothers, who are continuing to avoid police detection. Connolly tries to persuade Billy into getting Whitey to cooperate with the FBI, but Billy refuses him yet gives notice to Whitey. Whitey detests of the idea of going “rat” for the police, but feels the pressure on himself as he wishes to protect both his wife, Lindsey, and son, Douglas. After the Angiulo Brothers murder a member of the Winter Hill gang, Whitey decides to go informant for Connolly, much to Flemmi’s dismay.

Connolly’s control over Whitey is continually questioned however by his boss, Charles McGuire, although he is also defended by his close co-worker, John Morris, who blindly follows Connolly’s plan.

Tensions increase as Whitey ignores the informant rules of no crime or killing; using his ‘protection’ to further his criminal agenda with the gang. He becomes unhinged however, when his son suddenly goes into a vegetative state from Reye syndrome, leading Lindsey to pull the plug and let him die. Their relationship breaks off afterward, just as Connolly begins demanding actual information on the Angiulo Brother’s racketeering locations. Finally, Whitey is able to get pictures of their work hideouts, allowing the FBI to wiretap the Angiulos head-on.

Before McGuire can terminate the informant operation, the wiretaps pick up the Angiulos discussing their criminal activities, leading the FBI to arrest them, also eliminating any opposition to Whitey’s growing empire. Connolly, blinded by his old past and loyalty to Whitey, grows closer to him and the gang as more than simple ‘informants.’ His wife, Marianne, is disgusted by their presence at home, but is forced to deal with them and her husband’s further change.

Problems rise later on as Whitey is suddenly cut out of an embezzlement scheme from World Jai Alai and directs Martorano to murder the oncoming owner Roger Wheeler, and their original embezzlement contact, John Callahan. Whitey suspects that an associate who overhears the murder plan, Brian Halloran, would not keep it a secret, so he pays him off to leave. Halloran later hears about Wheeler’s murder and, scared for his life, Halloran goes to the FBI to report Bulger’s relation to the crime. Connolly and Morris intercept and interview Halloran, but point to his cocaine addiction and dismiss his accusations against Bulger. Connolly, fearing Whitey is in too deep, breaks the law by telling Whitey of Halloran’s accusation. Whitey then hunts down and murders Halloran and an unnamed friend of his in broad daylight soon after.

The Winter Hill gang’s informant relationship degenerates because of Whitey’s own increasing violent behavior – threatening Morris and Marianne, as well as murdering Flemmi’s prostitute stepdaughter, Deborah Hussey. Ultimately, the downfall begins as Fred Wyshak, a “bulldog” prosecutor, moves into the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Connolly attempts to make friends with Wyshak, who coldly refuses and also scolds Connolly’s idiotic relationship with Whitey, demanding that the FBI begin to bring Whitey down. When John McIntyre, an informant within the Winter Hill gang itself, blows the whistle on Whitey’s attempt at weapons running for the Provisional Irish Republican Army, he is soon found out and murdered by the gang, most likely due again to Connolly’s inside information. Wyshak and McGuire investigate Connolly’s control over Whitey’s informant activity. They discover that most of what Connolly presented as Whitey’s tips were actually repeats of earlier tips from low-level informants. Morris reveals the true relationship that Connolly and Whitey had, in return for immunity for his crimes.

Whitey is forced to acknowledge the end, when The Boston Globe publishes a front-page article about his informant activities, which causes him to lose the gang’s trust. In the final scenes, Connolly, Flemmi, Weeks, and Martorano are arrested. Whitey goes on the run, but not before giving Billy a final goodbye from a pay phone. After Connolly’s and the other characters’ sentences are shown, a final scene reveals Whitey being finally caught by the FBI in 2011, 16 years after the initial crackdown.
Cast

Our Thoughts

Black Mass is an Academy Award level movie, and Johhny Depp redeems his himself after the flop Mortdecai. In fact, Depp out acts Cumberbatch and everyone else in the film. Johhny Depp and Joel Edgerton’s accents never wavered, but a few of the others do. Which disappointed me since it was Cumberbatch, who twisted the English into an Irish character in a way an American could tell the difference.

That aside, it is an all-star cast, and if it doesn’t win Best Actor, best Supporting Cast, and Best Film (out of what I’ve seen so far)  …then the Oscars are rigged. Depp is that good. 3/4 through the movie I had to remind himself it was Depp.

Highly recommended. 5 stars, Top Notch Entertainment, and One of the Best “based on a true story films” EVER MADE! – MR

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