Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Merella Fernandez to have a look at the weekend’s big releases “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” Annette Bening in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” and the thriller “Hollow in the Land.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the latest YA adaptation to hit the screen, “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” Annette Bening in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” and the thriller “Hollow in the Land.”
In March 2016, production was shut down on Maze Runner: The Death Cure when star Dylan O’Brien was hurt filming an elaborate stunt. O’Brien, who rose to fame as the resident heartthrob on Teen Wolf, was strapped in a harness on top of a moving vehicle when he was suddenly thrown and struck by another car. WorkSafeBC reported his injuries included “concussion, facial fracture and lacerations.”
With production postponed, O’Brien’s publicist Jennifer Allen said, “His injuries are very serious and he needs more time to recover.”
Director Wes Ball tweeted, “Well, it’s been a whirlwind of emotions these past few days. I’ve been overwhelmed with feelings of anger and sadness and guilt. But, ultimately I find myself left with just a deep love and respect for Dylan. He is one tough cookie.”
The film, originally scheduled for release on Feb. 17, 2017, was delayed until this weekend.
O’Brien says he was “in a really fragile, vulnerable state,” and during the early days of his recuperation thought he may never act again. “I’ve gotten to a place where I’m OK with it,” he told People, “but it was definitely a rough year.”
The 26-year-old isn’t the first actor to be hurt performing a dangerous deed. Jackie Chan is famous for doing all of his own stunts — and breaking almost every bone in his body in the process — while Mission: Impossible 6 was recently put on hold after Tom Cruise broke his ankle attempting a jump across a building gap.
Sylvester Stallone broke ribs on the First Blood set and Charlize Theron herniated a disc in her spine while shooting Aeon Flux. Jason Statham joked about almost being drowned during the making of The Expendables 3, but it is serious business. How far should filmmakers go in the search for realism in stunts?
Industry insiders say the best way to keep everyone safe is to let the professionals do their jobs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, no stranger to films with wild action scenes, said, “With stunts, we have a rule that if you can get injured or killed, you let a stunt guy do it, because they are much more skilled in how to do the falls, being on fire, how to deal with all those things.”
Stunt driver Richard Lippert asserts that, stunt-wise, actors only have to know how to do three things: first, how to convincingly fake a punch; second, how to drive on and off a mark; and finally, how to credibly handle a weapon. Other than that, he says, “actors shouldn’t plan to do their own stunts no matter how ‘cool’ or exciting it may seem.”
Other than personal danger for the actor, one wrong move can shut down a set costing everyone their livelihoods. “Taking a job away from someone to stroke your ego is not a good way to become popular,” says Lippert.
CGI is another option, although many top directors prefer real action. After years of “following the CG evolution,” using computer-generated images to create beautiful animated films like Happy Feet and Babe: A Pig in the City, director George Miller used actual stunts performed by stunt men and women in his action epic Mad Max: Fury Road. “It was like going back to your old hometown and looking at it anew,” he said.
You may be forgiven if you, like me, thought about going to see “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure” to catch up on what happened to Shailene Woodley’s character Tris Prior.
Please be advised you have the wrong franchise.
Back in the day of the young-adult-in-peril dystopian trilogies screens were filled with good looking young actors fighting for survival in movies like “The Maze Runner” and “The Divergent Series.” Of the bunch of them only “The Hunger Games” distinguished itself as a go-to movie. The others kind of blended together to form one long post apocalyptic action series that resembled an anti-utopian Guess ad with automatic weapons and artfully tousled hair.
Since the new film, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” assumes you’re up to speed with the story I’ll save you the trouble of having to binge watch the first two movies.
Here’s the catch-up:
Based on a series of wildly popular YA books, 2014s “The Maze Runner” sees Thomas, played by “Teen Wolf’s” Dylan O’Brien, plopped into a community of young men surrounded by a labyrinth. The rebellious Thomas wants to see if there is a way to navigate through the ever-changing maze that stands between the boys and whatever is happening in the outside world.
The following year “The Scorch Trials” saw the virtuous Thomas and his gang take on the worst people in the world, W.C.K.D., a group of evildoers that appear to use an Instagram acronym as their name.
After a three-year wait Thomas is back with his stylishly dishevelled hair and chiselled face to break into The Last City, a fortified town where doctors work to find a cure for a plague that turns people into snarling zombies. The good doctors, including Thomas’s former flame Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), are experimenting on the Maze Runners who are immune to the disease. In particular Thomas wants to rescue Minho (Ki Hong Lee), a pal being mercilessly poked with needles in search of a cure.
“Maze Runner: The Death Cure” features lots of ominous music, attractive stars in motion, dusty dystopian landscapes and something gets blown up or shot at every 10 minutes or so. What’s missing is the emotional content that might make you care about Thomas and Company. The movie really wants you to love the characters. The camera endlessly caresses their determined and often tearstained faces but the ham fisted big emotional moments are as empty as the jars of gel thrown in the trash after being used to poof up the cast’s hair. The characters are mannequins mouthing generic dialogue—speeches begin with, “I knew I know you have no reason to trust me,” and every few minutes someone says, “We have to get out of here!”—for two hours and twenty minutes. Think what else you could do with that time!
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes do a refresher on “Captain America: Civil War” and then talk about the weekend’s big releases,the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster” and the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash.”
George Clooney is a rare breed, a one-name film star. Mention “George” and everyone knows who you’re talking about.
He’s headlined a handful of films dating all the way back to when there was a Clinton in the White House that raked in north of $100 million. Since leaving the television show ER in 1999, he’s released two movies a year on average, including this weekend’s Money Monster, a thriller about the host of a financial advice show held hostage on live TV by an investor who lost everything.
Some of his films have been successful, others not, but it’s clear Clooney doesn’t aspire to be a blockbuster star. Perhaps it’s because George is, as Time called him, “the last movie star,” that he appears determined to smash what that kind of stardom means. By lending his name to offbeat movies he deconstructs the mechanism of superstardom.
George steers his career toward character driven pieces, often at the expense of giant box office numbers. And while the fabric of his fame may fray around the edges from time to time — he’s as susceptible to box office vagaries as anyone — he stays busy, winning Oscars, producing movies like August: Osage County and acting as pitchman for everyone from Fiat to Martini vermouth.
“I’m very aware of the fact that if not for a Thursday night time slot on ER, I wouldn’t have this career,” he once said, “so I’m going to push the limits as much as I can.”
From kid flicks to period dramas and political satire Clooney has done just that.
Loosely based on a Roald Dahl story, the stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox sees Clooney as a smooth-talking fox that returns to a life of crime after buying a tree house he can’t afford. Clooney brings charm, wit and warmth to an unpredictable character, smooth one minute, a wild animal the next.
Clooney also starred in The Good German, a tribute to 1940s cinema shot with technology from the golden age of Hollywood — the same lenses, the same atmospheric lighting, the same rat-a-tat-tat style of dialogue, the same everything. It’s a retro-looking film made with twenty-first century creative freedom. Clooney, as an American military journalist covering the Potsdam Conference in post-war Berlin, and co-star Cate Blanchett look like golden age movie stars but behave more like Brat Packers.
Strangest of all is The Men Who Stare at Goats, the best movie with the worst name on Clooney’s resume. He plays a psychic soldier in this screwball satire about the state of modern warfare. Its an absurdist film, filled with memorable images — Clooney staring down a goat, enlisted men doing the Watusi and a montage of Jeff Bridges embarking on a journey of enlightenment — where no joke is too broad or too barbed.
George is so artistically eclectic he even disowns one of his biggest hits. “I always apologize for Batman!” he says of the ludicrous Batman & Robin.
Richard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson kick around the weekend’s big releases, the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster,” the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash” and the Scottish drama “Sunset Song.”
George Clooney looks like the kind of guy you could trust. Older, experienced, he seems trustworthy, brimming with advice you could take to the bank. I mean, if you’d buy Nespresso coffee because he told you to, why wouldn’t you take financial guidance as well? A new movie, “Money Monster,” uses that quality, Clooney’s charisma, as the cornerstone of a thriller about misplaced trust, mislaid money and attempted murder.
Clooney is Lee Gates, a loudmouth financial advisor who bellows about investing in stocks and saving for retirement on a live television show called “Money Monster.” Think “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” with just enough details changed to avoid lawsuits and you get the idea. Gates is a self-styled Wiz of Wall Street, a financial shock jock who starts each of his shows with a wild dance number.
Just as his Friday night broadcast is getting underway Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), a jilted investor invades the studio and takes Gates, his crew, and producer Patty (Julia Roberts) hostage live on air. “Turn those cameras back on I’m going to shoot him in his head!” He trusted the TV oracle only to lose everything when a high-frequency trading company Gates endorsed called Ibis Clear Capital lost $800 million overnight, tanking the stock market. Kyle is convinced that Wall Street banks are stealing our money and our country and Gates is the emblem of the theft. “I may be the one with the gun,” he says, “but I’m not the criminal here.”
In real time over the next hour Gates learns the human cost of his actions as Kyle as the cameras broadcast every minute to a worldwide audience of millions.
Like the volatile stock market Gates chronicles on his fictional show, “Money Monster’s” story takes many unexpected twist and turns. Unexpected and, as the story unfolds, preposterous. Unable to decide whether it is an exposé of Wall Street’s dirty dealings—much of it breathes the same air as “The Big Short” minus the bubble baths and Anthony Bourdain—a humanist thriller or a comment on the remove we feel watching tragedy through a screen—“If Lee survives we got to get him on the show,” chirps one chat show host watching the action on a monitor—it blends all its ideas into a mushy concoction that is neither one thing or the other. Director Jodie Foster relies on clichés to move the story forward rather than trusting the ideas and rich vein of social commentary that could have been mined from the material. You can’t help but wonder what Sidney Lumet might have done with the same story.
Clooney does the best he can with a script that forces him to behave like a caricature. He’s believable as the cocky on-air host, less so when he has to transform that character into a vulnerable, real human being.
Roberts is trapped in a control room, barking orders through a headset for most of the film, bringing whatever charm there is to be had from a part that is essentially a conduit for information and she tries to unravel the film’s core “where did the money go?” mystery.
The third part of the triumvirate, O’Connell, plays confused/mad quite well, but again is saddled with a role that is dragged down with repetition.
Some of the supporting actors fare a little better, particularly Caitriona Balfe as the CCO who wants to do the right thing, if only she knew what the right thing was and Christopher Denham as a producer who will do anything to please Gates.
“This isn’t good Lee,” Patti says about the action unfolding in the studio. She could have been talking about “Money Monster,” a movie that feels like a missed opportunity to mix intimate life and death drama with an indictment of the wheelers and dealers who play hardball with our money.
Richard and CP24 anchor Rena Heer talk about the weekend’s big releases, the revamped “The Jungle Book,” a third visit to Calvin’s in “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” the jazzy notes of “Miles Ahead” and the mind altering ‘Criminal.”