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Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The teenage action/romance book craze of the early ‘00’s sparked a litany of film adaptations. The ‘Twilight’ ‘Harry Potter’ movies benefited from the enormous popularity of their literary counterparts. Based on the James Dashner book trilogy, the ‘Maze Runner’ films have followed a similar path. Whilst barely distinguishable from the rest, the series has had better performances and focus. ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ is the final chapter in the saga as it departs cinemas with lots of noise and angst rivalling any teenage dilemma.

Still trapped in a dystopian future where death stalks them at every corner, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends face a new challenge. Leading his group, including Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), on a final mission, Thomas must re-enter the Last City. A deadly labyrinth, the city holds the answers Thomas and everyone have been looking for. Almost reaching the end of their quest the chances of making it out alive decrease as their strange world swiftly closes in around them.

‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ is an occasionally interesting science-fiction yarn without being memorable. Whilst the action sequences are spectacular and the acting is above average, there’s a definite familiarity about it all. Moments rather than the whole film come alive with the script leaning towards predictability than offering genuine surprises. ‘The Death Cure’ doesn’t particularly offer anything new although it neatly concludes the trilogy.

Perhaps the lack of innovation falls to the choice of director, Wes Ball, who filmed the previous entries. He shows little flair in spicing up the narrative and leaves the heavy lifting to his stars. All do their best amidst the usual explosions and death-defying stunts. But there’s never a sense of true danger or tension. Much of this is due to the pacing with the story needing editing. A long run-time doesn’t make for a better film even if the characters are fleshed out more than usual.

Book to screen adaptations come and go like a rate of knots. ‘Maze Runner: The Death Curse’ isn’t the worst but nor is it the best. It falls somewhere in between, trapped in a creative purgatory with innovation taking a back seat. It was fun enough while it lasted although one hopes the next series of books receive greater handling on their journey to the silver screen.

Rating out of 10: 6

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The ‘Star Wars’ movies need no introduction. There is barely anyone on earth who either hasn’t seen or at least heard of the space saga since 1977. It has generated a fortune for all involved with the franchise showing no signs of vanishing. ‘The Last Jedi’ is the 8th instalment in the series although there have been a few related films slotted in between. Fans will lap this one up no matter the quality although there is no fear for anything approaching the awfulness of the dreaded prequels. Fast, exciting and full of genuine awe, ‘The Last Jedi’ is a great addition to the enduring series.

After having finally found skilled Jedi warrior Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Rey (Daisy Ridley) is taken on a journey to become a Jedi herself. She’ll need all the training she can get with the evil forces of dictatorial foe Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) closing in on the virtuous rebel army. Aided by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and others, Rey goes on an intergalactic adventure. Tackling the ways of the mysterious Force, her new abilities are needed to combat the power of the dark side.

One word describes ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ and that’s ‘courage’. Director Rian Johnson has gone out of the Star Wars comfort zone to generate something quite different. There’s a new-found sense of genuine danger in the narrative with the ‘anything can happen’ feel ever present. The cast do an amazing job in their roles, especially Ridley who makes Rey a strong heroine. Whilst Hamill and the late Carrier Fisher are excellent as always, the focus is squarely on the new characters who hold their own against established ones. This highlights the courageousness of Johnson’s direction as he presents a refreshing take on classic personas making events more watchable.

Although the longest film in the series, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ moves fast. The pacing never lets up from its opening moments with the action sequences superably realised. This is a beautiful looking production with flawless CGI and the always fantastic John Williams providing a stirring musical score. ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ truly embraces the epic expanses of the original premise with a story taking its time to breathe. The surprises are genuine and add much to the tale without feeling gratuitous. The script works on several levels but remembers to have that same light-hearted tone which appealed to audiences forty years ago.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is one of the strongest entries in the series. Consistently engaging and exciting, it utilises the big screen canvas very well. The next chapter will have a lot to live up to as ‘The Last Jedi’ raises the standards by which future instalments will be judged.

Rating out of 10: 9