“My Memories, I Get Lost In Them. I Can’t Tell If This Is Now Or Then…”
With gunshots and spectacle taking centre stage last week to a solidly effective degree within an episode which not only offered up new characters, but fresh environments too, it comes as no surprise that this week’s trip into Westworld offered more of the baffling, brain-aching twisty narratives which the show is renowned for, utilising once again the power of uncertain timescale jumps as one of the more interesting questions of Season Two begins to unravel and the history and troubles of characters both old and new are efficiently examined. With a huge percentage of the episode focused on Bernard, both in the past and in the “present”, his reunion with long lost work counterpart Elise, returning after her unsatisfying mysterious disappearance in Season One, leads to one of the more interesting notions within the Westworld environment being slowly picked apart, and with guest star Peter Mullan brilliantly returning as James Delos, the father in law of William who was introduced earlier in the series, his seclusion within the confines of Groundhog Day style set up is superbly repeated throughout the episode as the layers of his existence begin to unravel, accumulating in an expertly crafted crossing of paths come the latter end of this week’s extended episode.
With Bernard and Elsie discovering the possibility of what seems to be a human/host hybrid project, one originally designed to house the mind of James Delos, the question now resides on who the latest choice for this particular endeavour is, one started by William himself and one which seems to be part of the many regrets torturing such a character, and with a strange, darkly nihilistic tone creeping over the mood of the episode this week, aided of course by the ever creepy drone hosts, the fundamental strangeness of the show was their to be seen in spades. With William/The Man in Black absent from proceedings last week, his explosive return explores his deeper sorrow at the loss of a loved one and his determination to continue on the hunt for Ford’s endgame. Crossing paths with the vengeful Lawrence after his betrayal by Delores/Wyatt, the usage of nitroglycerine was a key part in a couple of strongly orchestrated set pieces, one a slow, measured attempt to walk away without losing a limb and the other, the most rewarding exploding death of a host you’ll see all season. Concluding with a unexpected familial reunion, which in hindsight, makes complete sense, “The Riddle of the Sphinx” was a challenging, bizarre but overly rewarding slice of science fiction which shows that sometimes, brains over brawl is indeed the successful choice.
Overall Score: 8/10
“There Is Beauty In What We Are. Should We Too Try To Survive..?”
With this week meaning that we are already three episodes into the latest season of Westworld, one could argue that in terms of contrasting series tones, HBO’s flagship show of 2018 bears an aching similarity to Netflix’s maddeningly enjoyable adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil, with the first season of each both being outdone in terms of adrenaline fuelled action by their follow up sisters, and what episode three of Westworld proves this week is that not only is the blockbuster budget being well and truly dug into in order to showcase much more expansive action set pieces, but the sense of widening exploration evident in the first two hours of the season is an element which continues to be thoroughly enjoyable and genuinely intriguing. With an Asian inspired rendition of “Seven Nation Army” opening the episode, we are swiftly introduced to the first real dip into wider Westworld territory, with Katja Herbers’ Grace violently coming across the host’s defection in a British Raj-themed park in which the introduction of creaky CGI Bengal tigers attempt to fill the narrative gap left at the end of the premiere episode’s interesting cliffhanger.
With the majority of the episode following on from the discovery of a new park primarily focusing on the giant action set piece at the militaristic Confederados fort between Delores’ quickly assembled band of hosts and the hunting party of Delos soldiers, the action unfolds heavily in the “present day” this week, with no time at all whatsoever for pre-park flashbacks or even the inclusion of Ed Harris’ Man in Black. With an electrifying, flashy pacing chugging the action on much more rapidly than any episode within its’ first season, it seems very obvious that show-runners Johnathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have taken it upon themselves to arguably make the second season more “appealing” to a larger audience, one who may have been put off ever so slightly by the first series’ somewhat alienating, complex tones and prefer action over dialogue heavy monologues. Personally, I’m happy for a heavy dose of both as long as the mix between them is substantive and necessary, and whilst I enjoyed this week’s gigantic host versus human shoot-a-thon, the more interesting developments were indeed elsewhere in the discovery of the park’s wider alternatives, and with a concluding shot which resulted in a squeal of joyous excitement, “Virtù e Fortuna” at least made me ready for more sooner rather than later.
Overall Score: 7/10
“I Used To See The Beauty In This World. But Now I See The Truth…”
With the success of the premiere out of the way, the second episode of Westworld’s second season this week dares to offer yet another barrel load of interesting questions and premises rather than attempting to answer those queries already remaining from the first season and notions furthermore established last week. With time-jumps a go-go, “Reunion” succeeds primarily in travelling even further beyond a moment explored in the first season, with the return of Jimmi Simpson’s younger incarnation of William/The Man in Black and Ben Barnes’ Logan both highlighting the initial introduction to the ways and means of Westworld’s dreamlike capabilities and the ultimate decision made by the father figure of guest star Peter Mullan, whose fondness and respect for his step-son has resulted in a distracting familial wedge between the relationship between the two brothers in law. With the drastic change of time setting both before and after the events of the first season from the eyes of our two investors, the chance to see Delores in the “real world” set to the backdrop of some very familiar Blade Runner-esque musical arrangements follows on from her decision to outlay her past experiences in lands she considers to be too good for her human counterparts, and with her seemingly reminiscing her relationship with William outside of the park, the early indications of Delores’ differences seem to have begun years before the host revolution which has now occurred.
In the present day, Delores’ malevolent, murderous streak continues, with her aim of attempting to rebuild a sentient army of her own making landing her face-to-face with Maeve’s own individual journey, a subplot which thankfully is not showered with the heaviest amount of interest this week, whilst her sudden awareness of the oncoming human threat results in her making it resoundingly clear that her endgame is not as crystal clear as one might have originally thought, with her declaration that her quest does not lead her to a particular place or destination but a weapon instead, one destined to destroy the human enemy that is now hunting her. With The Man in Black still ferociously enjoying his time in a now deadly environment, his reunion with outlaw Lawrence leads him to the path of Gustavo Fring himself, with Giancarlo Esposito’s blink and you’ll miss it guest appearance as yet another Ford controlled host who teases the road on which William has now begun, one specifically he must traverse on his own. With the backstory expansive and thoroughly chin stroking, “Reunion” is yet another top quality episode of Westworld, and with the action of the first episode being switched for exposition and interesting plot development, Season Two continues to be an entertaining televisual adventure.
Overall Score: 8/10
“The Stakes Are Real In This Place Now. Real Consequences…”
With the debut season of Westworld being the televisual definition of a slow burner, Johnathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s small-screen re-imagining of Michael Crichton’s 1973 cult classic of the same name was still undoubtedly yet another rousing success for HBO, albeit one not quite in the same league of the likes of The Wire, The Sopranos or Game of Thrones as of yet, but with one of the finest hours of television the twentieth century has seen thus far to conclude its’ initial ten episode run, it sure has been an agonising wait to comment on the inevitable follow up which finally arrives this week. With the second season under the subheading of “The Door”, the premiere sees a wide range of narrative strands which pick up after the aftermath of last season’s concluding bloodbath, with returning key characters and new faces alike attempting to bridge the gap between what went wrong and who ultimately is to blame for the collapse of the once apathetic hosts, and with the use of differing timelines, a cornerstone of Westworld’s storytelling, being utilised once again to slowly answer the many questions raised from its’ stellar first season, it’s no surprise that the return of Westworld reminds you how puzzling and utterly captivating the show can be when hitting full stride.
Opening with a telling and foreboding past discussion between Jeffrey Wright’s Arnold and Evan Rachel Wood’s once caring and harmless Dolores Abernathy, the action swiftly moves to the implementation of the security team cleanup authorised by Westworld’s overarching company, Telos, and the introduction of Gustaf Skarsgård’s head of operations, Karl Strand, who after locating Wright in his host persona of Bernard, attempts to seek out what caused the hosts to turn murderous and against their basic and fundamental programming. With two weeks past since the death of Anthony Hopkins’ Ford and the loss of total communications since then, the drama switches back and forth between Bernard’s recollection of events immediately after the incident and the present day as he both attempts to hide his true identity from his Telos co-workers as well as understand the radical change his own mind is going through. With narrative swings which attempt to highlight the direction of the season ahead, the discovery of a particular foreign animal and a geographical anomaly nod at the expanding nature of the show which even in one episode has moved from the claustrophobic sensibility which was prevalent throughout most of the first series to a fresh eagerness to explore, confirming show-runner’s Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan’s comments regarding audience expectations of a much different Westworld season.
With the inevitable return of Wood’s Abernathy and Ed Harris’ Man in Black, now revealed to be the older presence of Jimmi Simpson’s William, both characters seem to be revelling in the new world that has been created for them, with Abernathy being contaminated with the mind of Wyatt to the extent that the killing of “innocent” guests has now become second nature and her newly found freedom resulting in her declaring her wishes of exploring worlds’s outside of her own, hand in hand with James Marsden’s Teddy, whilst William’s own freedom allows him to revel and shine in a world which has finally hit the dangerous levels he has always desired, with his character tempted once again by the ghost of Ford who tasks him with attempting to locate yet another puzzling destination. With Thandie Newton returning as Maeve, it is her particular subplot which surprisingly lessens the quality of the drama, with her reluctance to kill off Simon Quarterman’s agonisingly annoying character in order to locate her lost artificial daughter being the stand out narrative strand which really could be shortened or erased completely, even with Newton’s commanding on-screen presence. As far as season premiere’s go therefore, Westworld kicks off in tantalising fashion with a wide range of interesting plot points to expand upon, and with a clear new direction in which exploration is key, the quality which concluded the first season has thankfully continued on.
Overall Score: 8/10
“This Isn’t Just A Game. I’m Talking About Actual Life And Death Stuff…”
With The Post earlier this year garnering a wide flurry of Oscar nominations and a critical consensus which boarded on the side of rousing positivity, a return to form for director Steven Spielberg after the yawn-inducing mediocrity of The BFG was welcomed with open arms, and with only three months since its’ release here in the UK, Spielberg returns once again to the movie-fold with Ready Player One, a cinematic adaptation of Ernest Cline’s 2011 science fiction adventure novel of the same name. Projected in 3D for its’ preview screening release, Spielberg’s latest primarily focuses on Tye Sheridan’s (X-Men: Apocalypse) Wade Watts, a slum-stricken teen who uses the environment of the OASIS, a virtual reality gaming platform created by Mark Rylance’s (Dunkirk) recently deceased James Halliday, to both escape his daily slumber and more importantly, to join many others in the hunt for three “Easter Eggs” left within the game by Halliday before his death which give the finder both riches beyond belief and the key to control of the entire OASIS itself. With pop culture references galore and an upbeat, heroic sensibility, Spielberg’s latest undeniably should work in the hands of a filmmaker renowned for popcorn delights, but with a brain scorching over-reliance on digital effects and a screenplay both absent of emotion and effective engagement, Ready Player One doesn’t work as a whole and is merely saved by individual elements which make it passable rather than thoroughly entertaining.
With an obvious social commentary regarding the nature and impact of modern technology, Spielberg’s movie mixes the subversive ideas within Cronenberg’s Existenz and Videodrome with a obvious love for the science fiction genre in its’ eye-watering levels of on-screen references, levels which makes The Cabin in the Woods look like a passing fling with its’ respective horror genre, but too a staggering amount which by the half-way point does become overly tacky and cheap. With an entire segment dedicated to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, the set-piece is a real bottle spinner in regards to how one might respond, with my own personal obsession with Kubrick’s masterpiece resulting in a subverted distaste to seeing our on-screen heroes quickly pop through the Overlook Hotel, music cues and all, and instead making me think how I would rather be watching The Shining instead. With Ready Player One a movie which Spielberg himself has coined as the most difficult movie he’s worked on since Saving Private Ryan due to the staggering levels of visual effects, the CGI battle scenes really aren’t worth the time, particularly in a final act which boarders on George Lucas style dullness and a complete lack of character engagement when at least eighty percent of the film is spent inside the OASIS itself with digitally designed “avatars”. With Ben Mendelsohn once again resigned to Rogue One style typecasting as the film’s one-note central antagonist and a ear-scraping level of exposition heavy dialogue, Ready Player One certainly has more negative aspects than positive, and for a director who time and time again has proven that giant gargantuan science fiction spectacle is part and parcel of his day job, Spielberg’s latest annoyingly doesn’t hit the heavy heights we are all very much used to.
Overall Score: 4/10
“This Is The Way The World Ends…”
With Guillermo del Toro joyously arriving home earlier this month with a couple of Academy Awards in his back pocket for The Shape of Water, his latest rousing critical success is brought somewhat back down to earth with the release of Pacific Rim Uprising, a sequel to del Toro’s 2013 ridiculously silly action gargantuan which in all fairness, is more painfully cheesy than entertaining, and a film which brings to mind the middling rough patch the Mexican seemingly went through before this year’s resounding return to form. Swapping the director’s chair for a producing role however, the job of taking hold of the unnecessary sequel falls to Steven S. DeKnight of Daredevil Season One fame, undeniably the strongest Marvel/Netflix release to date, whose big-screen debut features John Boyega (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Jake Pentecost, son of the legendary General Stacker Pentecost as portrayed by Idris Elba (Thor: Ragnarok) in the first film, who swaps his life of thieving and black market dealings for a return to the fold in line with the Jaeger program after a fresh threat arises from the destructive, otherworldly Kaiju. With awful dialogue, a woeful lack of emotional investment and endless, mind-numbing overblown action set pieces, Uprising is unsurprisingly utter tosh, and even when some of the characters at times threaten to make the film more interesting than it should be, it’s plain to see that the main function of DeKnight’s cinematic debut is of course, solely monetary.
Whilst the first feature was just straightforward, unadulterated nonsense with an added layer of awfulness due to Charlie Hunnam’s vacuous leading character, the performances of both Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi meant that the film was at least likeable to a certain degree, and with the latter one of the more interesting returning characters added to the fold once again, her particular narrative strand within Uprising is systemic to the problems of the film. Far too many times are new and returning characters given so little to do in terms of engaging character development that when the film does eventually heed to the wishes of its’ true and fundamental natures in the form of CGI-engulfed action sequences, not one audience member actually really cares who does what and who makes it out alive. With it becoming patently clear that any movie touched by the woeful “talent” of both Charlie Day (Fist Fight) and Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad) is destined to be labelled as god-awful, Uprising does at least benefit from a committed, cockney-fuelled performance from the ever-charismatic Boyega and a runtime which improves on the staggeringly long length of its’ predecessor, but with a concluding act which makes Man of Steel look like a Woody Allen movie and a jarring post-credits sequence which makes you roll your eyes in utter condemnation of the movie’s future possibilities, Uprising doesn’t totally suck, it’s just the type of movie you watch with a blank expression and let it leave your consciousness as soon as its’ over. If you stay awake that is.
Overall Score: 4/10
“It’s Not Destroying. It’s Making Something New…”
Wowing audiences and critics alike in the past with screenplays for works of brilliance including 28 Days Later, Dredd, albeit unaccredited, and of course his masterful directorial debut in the form of 2015’s Ex Machina, the breath of fresh air which is Britain’s own, Alex Garland, returns this week with Annihilation, yet another hotly anticipated release which uses Netflix as its’ chosen distributor in the UK after somehow failing to secure a deal for a nationwide cinematic release. Whilst Ex Machina was essentially a low-key, claustrophobic comment on the notion of artificial intelligence which always settled for brains over brass idiocy, going against the ilk and financial safety net of many contemporary sci-fi blockbusters, Garland’s latest expands the film-making horizons of which genuinely interesting science fiction can be explored, a movie which although at times seems to not entirely piece together as smoothly as one would ultimately like, powerfully blends thought provoking notions of unidentified alien contact with nightmarish surrealist terror which both takes cues and evolves on from classic genre pieces of which the movie undeniably takes reference from.
Based upon Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 novel of the same name, the first entry within the well received “Southern Reach Trilogy”, Garland’s movie focuses on Natalie Portman’s, Lena, a former soldier turned biologist who after the mysterious year long absence of Oscar Isaac’s (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) husband figure and current serving member of the U.S Army, Kane, embarks on a high risk expedition into the unknown phenomenon known as only as the “Shimmer” in order to find both an explanation behind its’ origins and answers regarding Kane’s sudden disappearance. Teaming up with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s (The Hateful Eight) Dr. Ventress, a straight-faced terminally ill psychologist who takes lead of the group, and Tessa Thompson’s (Thor: Ragnarok) somewhat timid and “damaged” physicist, Josie, among others, Annihilation explores a mode of discovery as we venture into the ambiguous “Shimmer” with Portman’s Lena taking point as the audiences access into the surrealist undertakings our heroine witnesses through her journey into the unknown. With an opening thirty minutes which leans heavy on background details regarding Kane and Lena’s unfaithful relationship and the apocalyptic nature of the “Shimmer” itself, the remaining runtime hands forth a narrative which keeps the audience on edge, forever guessing the threat which ultimately will be discovered as the cards reveal themselves come a Under the Skin inspired final act.
Aided by an uncertain, uncomfortable sensibility, a tonal cornerstone which is completely rife from beginning to end, Annihilation is at times genuinely unnerving in nature, with minimal use of jump-scare tactics and a tendency for a complete lack of resolution regarding particular plot threads resulting in a Blair Witch style behaviour pattern in which the audience builds up tension ready to be alleviated but is instead left stranding and unsure of what to expect next. With the movie at times resorting to handheld footage in order to explore the outcome of previous expeditions within the “Shimmer”, the Blair Witch similarities are abundantly clear, whilst it comes not much of a stretch to see the likes of the monster effects of The Thing, the surreal science fiction beauty of Arrival and the nihilistic low-key apocalyptic themes of the little seen mind bending Coherence within the DNA of the piece too, and whilst at times dialogue does seem a tad on the nose and the special effects not exactly pitch perfect, a surprising weakness considering the Oscar winning work of Ex Machina, Garland’s latest is a wonderful work of science fiction cinema, one which will please genre fans from the outset and one which too leaves a lasting impression like all the best experimental works of art do so well.
Overall Score: 8/10
“I Love You So Much Leo, But You Don’t Know Me…”
Engaging with and including myself within the small minority who can actually stand up proudly and state that 2016’s Warcraft was actually better than most critics gave the movie credit for, Duncan Jones’ career has drifted from contemplative low-budget success story (Moon) to big budget science fiction spectacular (Source Code) in a reasonably swift amount of time, and with the release of Mute this week as the latest Netflix original after years of development hell, Jones’ long-term project, one deemed as the “spiritual sequel” to 2009’s Moon, is finally brought to life, if only on the small screen. Following Alexander Skarsgård’s (The Legend of Tarzan) Leo, the titular mute barkeep who attempts to solve the mystery of Seyneb Saleh’s Naadirah’s sudden disapearance within the heart of a future-world Berlin, Jones’ latest is unfortunately a cliched and utterly soulless Blade Runner rip-off, one which attempts to sew together a noir-esque primary plot thread amidst stereotypical Russian gangsters, The Fifth Element style campness and eerily ill-judged set pieces which are as ridiculous as they are jaw-droppingly stupid, resulting in Mute conforming to the fate of The Cloverfield Paradox by being yet another Netflix funded let down.
With Sally Hawkins managing to convey both rigorous emotion and heartwarming depth to a character of similar ilk in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, the inclusion of Skarsgård’s Leo, the speech-free central character of the piece, is somewhat gimmicky and undeniably underwritten, with Hawkins’ character necessary in furthering the audience’s understanding of the relationship between herself and Doug Jones’ aquatic monster, a level of narrative depth which is completely absent from the entirety of Jones’ screenplay, resulting in Skarsgård’s performance coming off as nothing more than a growling, angst-ridden puppet which is used to facilitate the furthering of plot when necessary. Whilst the opening forty five minutes of the piece is somewhat interesting, even with a heavy handed dose of exposition which explains absolutely everything in a excruciatingly painful paint-by-numbers fashion, the film really turns after a showdown between Leo and Dominic Monaghan’s sex facilitator on a bed next to a staggeringly imaginative pleasure doll which resulted in one of the biggest unintentional laughs I will have this year, and with the emergence of the similarly awful Paul Rudd (Ant Man) as the least threatening villain of the year so far and Justin Theroux’s (Mulholland Drive) overly misjudged paedophilic sidekick, Mute turns overly wacky and staggeringly dull rather quickly and with a conclusion which doesn’t entirely make up for the wait, Jones’ latest is annoyingly his weakest work to date, and for a project which took more than a decade to bring to the screen, one could have argued it should have stayed on the cutting room floor.
Overall Score: 4/10
“I Don’t Know What To Believe Anymore…”
Dropping out of nowhere and onto Netflix in a remarkably abnormal and somewhat anarchic fashion, The Cloverfield Paradox, the second sequel to Matt Reeves’ 2008 shaky-cammed monster marathon Cloverfield after 2016’s claustrophobic, 10 Cloverfield Lane, bears it teeth without any sign of meaningful marketing or propaganda-esque pushing aside from a thirty second trailer proceeding its’ release only hours before its’ availability worldwide on everyone’s favourite streaming service. Whilst such a decision is undoubtedly refreshing and boundlessly groovy, the question remains whether the film itself is worthy addition to a franchise which deserves plaudits for its’ adventurous attempts at building a somewhat Twilight Zone infused shared universe, and with a cast list featuring the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Miss Sloane), Daniel Brühl (Rush) and David Oyelowo (Selma), and a ideas-based narrative which attempts to solve the ambiguities of its’ predecessors, The Cloverfield Paradox, on paper, has success stamped all over it. Unfortunately however, Netflix’s latest high profile release is a ludicrous mess of a movie, one which begins in absorbing fashion with acres of room to flex its’ muscles but then descends into a shark-jumping bore-fest which not only veers the franchise off course, but could potentially endanger it completely.
Attempting to gel together the mystery at the heart of the franchise in regards to the origin of the destructive beast from the first entry, The Cloverfield Paradox, directed by big-time debutante, Julius Onah, follows Mbatha-Raw’s Ava Hamilton as she crews up with her expeditious space team aboard the Cloverfield Station in order to test the particle accelerator by the name of “Shephard” which has been designed in order to combat the life-threatening global energy crisis on Earth. Mixing in elements of Interstellar, Event Horizon and in regards to its’ dealings with augmented reality splits, the rather excellent, if little seen, Coherence, Onah’s movie suffers from having too much to say without any real follow-through, and with a wildly inconsistent tone which rakes in awfully timed comedy amidst perils of catastrophic possibilities, The Cloverfield Paradox is undoubtedly a missed opportunity and hands down the worst entry of the franchise thus far. With Chris O’Dowd being the glaring error of casting, with his supposedly intellectual character undoubtedly the most cringe-worthy performance of the year so far, and elements of slapstick-laden body horror amidst dialogue which can only be described as the cinematic equivalent of a paint by numbers book, Netflix’s latest big budget cornerstone is really quite poor, and even when the ideas on the surface are interesting enough to warrant some form of applause for trying, the execution is badly managed and ultimately, a sobering disappointment.
Overall Score: 4/10
“We Started This Together. We May As Well End It That Way Too…”
Whilst probably not the best person in some way to comment on a concluding act to a trilogy of which I have been completely absent from up to now, the latest entry into the Maze Runner series, directed by franchise stalwart, Wes Ball, brings to end arguably the most uninteresting young adult dystopian book adaptation to date, one which seemed in all honesty to exist primarily in order to latch onto the success of the far superior Hunger Games, and whilst I always revel in the chance to be proved wrong, The Death Cure is unfortunately, if not entirely surprisingly, a complete and utter elongated drag, one which fails to ignite any sense of interest or involvement throughout its’ unbelievably running time and a film which although is primarily designed for the younger side of audiences, seems entirely misjudged and altogether unrewarding. Beginning in a Skyfall-esque fashion with a somewhat well executed train heist, The Death Cure follows Dylan O’Brien’s (American Assassin) indestructible Thomas and his merry band of wavy hair followers through a Mad Max inspired landscape in order to save Ki Hong Lee’s Minho, who has been captured by the ridiculously named organisation, WCKD, in order to utilise his immunity to a virus unlike 28 Days Later’s rage virus and potentially save the remaining human race. Sound convoluted? That’s just the start.
Whilst I am all for spectacle-infused action carnage which sides with brass over an influx of brains, Ball’s movie is fundamentally one which reeks of glaring similarity, and whilst the film seems to be at least made with a somewhat dedicated respect to the source material, the movie ultimately suffers due to a wavering and uncertain narrative and an inclusion of characters which not only come across as the epitome of one dimensional, but too are characters so underdeveloped and dull that any of them could have been simply plucked from the set of either Hunger Games or Divergent without any of the other cast entirely noticing or caring. With Dylan O’Brien in the leading role as the one-note resistance cornerstone, Thomas, his performance similarly seems to have been simply transferred from the set of last year’s American Assassin, with the actor once again proving that with even the strongest will in the world, the American is still one of the most boring leading performers working today, and with the film personifying the term, deus ex machina, thanks to a constant stream of deadly set pieces which are suddenly revoked thanks to laughably bad saviours who seem to pop out of the cinematic ether for no apparent reason, The Death Cure is a shark-jumping bore of the highest order.