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!
A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Charlize Theron’s Cold War spy story “Atomic Blonde,” the masterpiece theatre murder mystery “Lady Macbeth” and the found footage scares of “Phoenix Forgotten.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the big weekend movies including Charlize Theron’s Cold War spy story “Atomic Blonde,” the masterpiece theatre murder mystery “Lady Macbeth” and the found footage scares of “Phoenix Forgotten.”
All found footage films need to find a reason to exist, a reason why there is a camera set permanently to the on position. In the case of “Phoenix Forgotten” it’s a sister trying to make a documentary about her brother’s disappearance.
“Are you going to be filming the whole time,” asks her father.
“That’s the whole idea,” says Sophie (Florence Hartigan).
“I feel like Harrison Ford,” he laughs.
With that framework out of the way the story gets going, using the (now debunked) real life Phoenix, Arizona UFO sightings of March 13, 1997 as a backdrop for the action.
When sonic booms rocked the city Josh Bishop (Luke Spencer Roberts) didn’t buy his father’s explanation that the air force was doing a practice run overhead. Shooting some grainy footage, the teenager decides to investigate. With the help of school friends Ashley Foster (Chelsea Lopez) and Mark Abrams (Justin Matthews) and a borrowed school handy cam he sets off to into the desert filled with curiosity. The three never finish their make shift documentary. Disappearing after they left their car on the desert edge, extensive searches by a small army of law enforcement turn up no clues. Were they I they in the wrong place at the wrong time? Was it a fight over the girl? Or was it something otherworldly? “We didn’t find anything,” says a police officer involved in the search, “so who knows what happened. It’s hard to speculate.”
Twenty years later sister Sophie picks up the story, arriving in town with her ever- present camera. “What if Josh was on to something?” she says. “We always assumed he got lost or kidnapped or murdered. What if…” What if he got kidnapped by an alien? “I’m starting to sound like him,” she muses. When she finds Josh’s video camera, returned to the lost and found of the school he borrowed it from, more clues emerge.
As a genre found footage is showing it’s age. From the brilliant “Blair Witch Project” on it has been used, primarily in cheap-and-cheerful budget horror and sci fi films, to create a sense of urgency in a first person narrative. Trouble is, they’ve been done to death and their techniques don’t feel fresh anymore. At some point the screen will fill with static (check), the cast of unknowns will look panicked and confused (check), the protagonists will run, camera in hand, causing the picture to jiggle as though it was strapped to the back of a runaway horse (check), there will be Dr. Tongue-style close-ups (check) and the inevitable dropped camera freeze frame (check).
Despite the stylistic predictability “Phoenix Forgotten,” succeeds on several levels. Director Justin Barber has a nice ear for the rhythms of the character’s speech and draws good naturalistic performances from the cast of unknowns. The story doesn’t completely impress, and Barber takes way too long setting up the mystery, but the actors are engaging. He also does a nice job cutting together Sophie’s slick documentary footage with the grainy 1990s handy cam material.
“Phoenix Forgotten’s” mix of fact and fiction isn’t all that scary but Barber does whip up some intense and paranoid moments.