Saturday, September 20, 2014

Maze Runner

Plot: Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up in a freight elevator in amnesia. He is in a walled garden that is in the center of a maze.  The other young men have been for years. They don't know why they are there, and every night monsters eat anyone still in the maze. Thomas helps them solve the puzzle of the maze, and set up the sequel. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Maze Runner is a light-weight horror movie with an over-designed plot that is typical of video games. My biggest problem was the artificialness of the plot which was not only artificial in set-up but kept on getting simpler and less clever (i.e. dumber). There is not any humor and little satire. It is a pretty dumb horror with a post-apocylpse vibe.

Thomas is an interesting character, but everyone else was a blank. I would not mind seeing Dylan O'Brien again.

The movie is dreary with many shots of blank walls. The action scenes are the best part, but the animation of the monsters is only OK. 

Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Ami Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario

Directed by: Wes Ball, who has never made a full length film before.

Based on the novel by: James Dasher, a four book series.

Rating: 1.5 stars: Not recommended. Might be OK if it were on free TV.

More: It was interesting that when a girl (!) shows up in the movie; the guys just leave her alone. No harassment, no romance, no flirting, and certainly no sex. Seems like the script was written for younger actors than the 21-23 year olds that were cast. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Plot With Spoilers: Boyhood follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) growing up from age 6 to age 18. It was made with the same actors over a 12 year period and everyone ages realistically. Mason lives with his mom (Patricia Arquette) and sees his divorced father (Ethan Hawke) on weekends. Little Mason fights with his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and we watch their relationship evolve as they go to middle school and high school. Mason gets picked on in middle school, gets kissed in high school, gets high, plays video games, graduates high school, breaks up with his girlfriend, and goes to college.  As this happens the adults age as well, getting married, changing careers, and getting divorced.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Boyhood is an epic movie. I have never seen anything like it. I relived my own adolescence seeing these events flow past over 3.25 hours. The sense of time passing is real as the kids age, and the clothes, music and electronics change. 

This is a masterful movie with deserves a lot of attention.  There is a script and everyone is an actor -- it is not a documentary, but the events are typical events that would happen in an American family.

One of the fun parts is figuring out when the one year gaps occurred, and what happened during the intervening year. Did someone move or change jobs or get divorced or, or, or?

Boyhood gets away with its philosophical and psychological dialog because bad life choices are played out on the screen over and over again. In another movie, this much philosophy would be too preachy.

There are many wonderful scenes like the kids fighting in the back seat, the drunken step dad throwing dinnerware, and Samantha talking about contraception with her dad.

I liked the actors especially Patricia Arquette. Lorelei Linklater and Ellar Coltrane are great when they get past 15 or so. 

Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater. 

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Rating: 4 stars -- an epic achievement

More: The script was written as time passed, and the actors took part in writing the dialog.

Even More: It is wrong for Boyhood to get an R rating. Young teens should see this most. The drug use scenes have natural consequences.