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The Maze Runner (2014) Movie Review

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Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario co-star in Wes Ball’s feature directing debut, a futuristic teen thriller

Managing fan expectations could turn out to be this movie’s principal challenge.

Opens: Friday, Sept. 19

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Dexter Darden, Patricia Clarkson

Director: Wes Ball

When Fox picked up the feature version of animator Wes Ball’s short film Ruin in 2012, the deal quickly led to the studio offering Ball The Maze Runner as his full-length directing debut. Entrusted with the first novel in author James Dashner’s futuristic series of four young adult books, Ball appears to be implementing a strategy that’s predicated more on quickly launching a film franchise than developing a substantive long-form narrative.

When The Maze Runner was published in 2009, it became a New York Times bestseller, and it’s easy to understand why: Dashner has fashioned a distinctive, if derivative, dystopian storyline that’s easily recognizable, along with archetypal characters engaged in a constant, thrilling struggle for their lives. Although the principal protagonists’ survival is never seriously in doubt, it’s threatened frequently enough to maintain interest, so with anticipation regarding the novel’s adaptation already running high, the release is likely to see substantive response from teens and Dashner’s literary fans.

Ball opens the film with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) arriving in the Glade at the center of the Maze just like every other teen boy before him — on a freight elevator that unloads him and some meager cargo in a vast open area covered by meadows and woods that’s surrounded by massive concrete walls. Unable to remember any details from his past, he’s quickly assimilated into the makeshift society that the population of several dozen teens has created, even though all of them suffer from a similar state of trauma-induced amnesia. Alby (Aml Ameen), the first arrival, and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) form the leadership team, and enforcer Gally (Will Poulter) provides any physical persuasion required to keep everyone in line performing their assigned tasks. Gardeners and goat herders provision the camp, craftsmen fashion shelters and tools, but the Runners get the most respect.

Every night, the Maze that surrounds the Glade shifts configuration, and every day, the Runners enter the labyrinth guided by Minho (Ki Hong Lee) to map each iteration in an ongoing quest to find a way out, but they must return to the Glade before nightfall and the emergence of the terrifying Grievers, giant spider-like biomechanical predators that patrol the Maze. After more than three years of exploration, they’re still searching for the secret to the Maze, but it takes Thomas’ unique perspective to open up new possibilities when he’s quickly promoted to Runner after helping Alby and Minho survive a night in the Maze, an unprecedented feat.

The arrival of Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the only girl ever sent to the Glade, upsets the delicate social order further, particularly since she appears to have some mysterious connection with Thomas, although neither can remember exactly what it might be. Thomas and Minho’s search continues to turn up more clues, including an electronic device retrieved from a slaughtered Griever that might help them unlock the Maze’s inner workings. But with Alby gravely injured in a Griever attack and Gally aggressively pushing back against any attempts to abandon the Glade, Thomas and Teresa will need to convince the other boys that a direct and strategic penetration of the Maze is their best hope for escape and survival.

The Maze Runner’s similarities to well-known literary works (Nineteen Eighty-Four and Lord of the Flies among them) and speculative fiction thrillers (Logan’s Run, Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, for instance) are almost more reassuring than disconcerting. In fact, it’s this recurrent sense of familiarity rather than any distinct originality that makes the film consistently engaging, although never outright challenging.

This lack of narrative sophistication is exemplified by “WCKD,” the mysterious organization directed by Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) that has trapped the kids in the Maze and consistently thwarts their attempts to discover the justification for their incarceration, making belated third-act plot revelations far more frustrating than gratifying.

You can’t blame the kids for all the confusion, however. With most of his memories inaccessibly buried in his subconscious, Thomas becomes a bundle of instincts and impulses, dominated by a restless curiosity that O’Brien expresses rather realistically. Scodelario doesn’t figure in the action until well into the film, when she initially causes a sensation by disrupting the masculine equilibrium, but then gets quickly relegated to sidekick status. Equally lacking in backstory, most of the sizable supporting cast has scant opportunity to build character, although Brodie-Sangster and Poulter are better differentiated as Thomas’ advocate and antagonist respectively.

Clarkson barely registers in the film’s final scenes, and Lee’s Minho character gets drastically shortchanged; a significant slip-up considering his integral role investigating the mystery of the Maze. Aside from some uneven handling of the cast, Ball competently styles the action sequences throughout the film and capitalizes on his VFX expertise with pulse-pounding scenes tracking the Runners through the Maze battling Grievers.

Whether Ball will next get the chance to put his talents toward directing Ruin or The Scorch Trials, the second novel in Dashner’s series that’s already in development at Fox, may well depend on the initial success of The Maze Runner.

Production companies: Gotham Group, Temple Hill Entertainment

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Dexter Darden, Patricia Clarkson

Director: Wes Ball
Screenwriters: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, T.S. Nowlin

Producers: Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Lee Stollman

Executive producers: Joe Hartwick, Jr., Edward Gamarra, Lindsay Williams

Director of photography:Enrique Chediak

Production designer: Marc Fisichella

Costume designer: Simonetta Mariano

Editor: Dan Zimmerman

Music: John Paesano

Rated PG-13, 113 minutes

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See the First Official Video of the New “Millennium Falcon” from ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

millenfalcBoth J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: Episode VII) and Zack Snyder (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) are having a lot of fun teasing fans with tiny reveals of their respective upcoming movies via social media, and now they’re beginning to intersect in some very amusing ways. Just recently Zack Snyder shot down a rumor that one of the Batmobiles was stolen from the set of Batman v Superman by posting this image of Gotham City cops arresting a Star Wars stormtrooper for the crime.

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Now, in retaliation for blaming the theft on one of the characters he’s currently working with, J.J. Abrams has responded to Snyder by posting the first footage of the new Millennium Falcon. There’s a catch, though, because halfway through the familiar Star Wars music transitions to some equally as familiar Dark Knight music, and the video ends on a close-up of Batman’s Tumbler all taped up on the bottom of the ship… as if to say, “Not so fast, Snyder. We got your Batmobile right here!”

Watch the video below. Now it’s on Mr. Snyder to respond. But how?


No, Luke. That’s not a piece of junk. That’s a hunka junk.


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Iggy Azalea – 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas

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Hilary Duff – 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Vegas

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Bella Thorne – amfAR Gala in Milan

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Pregnant Alicia Keys posts nude photo of herself with peace sign painted on baby bump to draw eyes to We Are Here charity movement

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Alicia Keys 1‘It’s you and me on a mission to create a kinder and more peaceful world': Alicia Keys posted this photo of her bare pregnant tummy on Saturday with a peace sign painted on it to help promote the #WeAreHere Movement

She has an audience of millions across the world and now plans to use them for greater good.

Alicia Keys posted a nude photo of her naked and pregnant belly on Saturday, with only her hands covering her breasts for modesty – and the share was purpose-driven.

The 33-year-old singer and mother wore a peace sign painted on her baby bump, which was representative of the #WeAreHere movement, a charitable campaign she recently spoke with the New York Times about.

In the image, the Fallin’ songstress gives the camera a gaze of intent with her braided and beaded hair falling to one side.

She has explained that since last month’s news of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and recent events in the Middle East, she has started to consider her role in the world on a more serious level.

Speaking with the publication, she said that a friend recently asked her ‘why are you here,’ and her immediate thought was: ‘Nobody has asked me that question before.’

Alicia Keys 2‘I want to gather an army': Alicia Keys, seen here at Ruby Dee’s memorial service at Assembly Hall of the Riverside Church in Manhattan Saturday, is pulling eyes to a charitable cause

We Are Here – which is also the name of Alicia’s latest song – is a way for her to do her part in making a difference in the world.

The aim is to bring people together and help people find ways to make an impact rather than just contemplate the atrocities in the world and not do anything about it.

‘I want to gather an army,’ the star told the Times, adding that the reason for posting the naked baby bump image was to pull eyes to her cause.

Alicia Keys 3Tuneful tribute: Keys – born Cook – pointed to the heavens as she serenaded the star-studded audience celebrating the Oscar-nominated actress and activist

‘It’s time to get people’s attention,’ she explained. ‘People won’t be able to ignore this visual.’

The Girl On Fire singer created the image to express the idea that we should be concerned about the type of world we are bringing new children into, and all try to improve it.

‘We’re in the same head space. We think the same things,’ she said, of the injustices facing the world. ‘This is bothering us, so how can we take that to the next step and do something about that, as opposed to just being angry?’

Alicia Keys 4A baby and album on the way! The R&B diva recently debuted her new song We Are Here, which should appear on her forthcoming sixth studio album

The 12 groups that Alicia will encourage her fans to support are: All Out, CARE, Equal Justice Initiative, the Future Project, Girl Rising, Keep a Child Alive, Moms Rising, Oxfam, the Trevor Project, the Trayvon Martin Foundation, and War Child.

She told the publication that she is donating $1 million of her own money between these organizations to get the efforts started, and that her fans can contribute themselves at the We Are Here Movement website.

Alicia Keys 5Mother and stepmother: The baby will be the second child for the Girl on Fire crooner and her husband Swizz Beatz, who also has three children by three other women

Alicia and her husband of four years Swizz Beatz are expecting their second child in December.

Rumour has it that Keys will be giving her son Egypt Daoud Ibarr Dean – who turns four next month – a little brother.

The busy singer was seen in Manhattan, New York, on Saturday attending Ruby Dee’s memorial service.

The Grammy winner wore a figure-hugging navy blue dress and matching hat to farewell the famed American actress, poet and playwright.

Having another boy? Rumour has it that Keys will be giving her son Egypt Daoud Ibarr Dean – who turns four next month – a little brother

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Box Office: ‘Maze Runner’ Surges Friday Night for $30M-Plus Debut; ‘Tombstones’ Distant No. 2

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Shawn Levy’s adult dramedy ‘This Is Where I Leave You’ also enters the fray

Friday Report: The Maze Runner opened to an estimated $11.25 million on Friday, which puts it on pace for around $30 million this weekend.

Twentieth Century Fox’s boy-centric The Maze Runner took off Friday night at the multiplex thanks to younger males and females, putting it on course for a debut of $30 million or more. It’s the first YA film adaptation to launch in September, a generally sleepy month at the North American box office.

Maze Runner, earning an A- CinemaScore, grossed roughly $11 million for the day from 3,604 theaters, including Imax runs.

Liam Neeson‘s A Walk Among the Tombstones placed a distant No. 2, earning $4.7 million on Friday for a projected $14 million weekend and coming in behind the actor’s other recent action films. Shawn Levy‘s adult dramedy This Is Where I Leave You is projected to take in $11 million-plus for the weekend after placing No. 3 Friday with $3.9 million (neither film was costly to make).

Maze Runner hopes to launch a new franchise for Fox, which spent $34 million to make the thriller. Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf) Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario and Will Poulter star in the movie.

Heading into the weekend, tracking services suggested Maze Runner could shoot past $35 million in its North American debut, although tracking has been notoriously unreliable in recent months. As a result, Fox was more conservative in its estimates, saying $30 million or less. Based on matinee business, the number was actually revised south to $25 million, but ticket sales picked up by nighttime.

Maze Runner follows O’Brien’s character as he wakes up with no memory inside the center of a giant maze, an area known as The Glade, surrounded by other teen boys who likewise can’t remember anything. Threatening them all are vicious creatures known as Grievers. The boys look for a way out of the maze, but it isn’t until a mysterious girl arrives that they have a fighting chance. Females made up 52 percent of Friday’s audience, while males represented 48 percent, a strong showing for a demo that’s more and more difficult to lure to theaters.

Wes Ball directed from an adapted script by Noah Oppenheim.

In terms of comparisons, dystopian YA film adaptation Ender’s Game opened to $27 million in November 2011 after a $9.8 million Friday. Divergent, also a dystopian story but featuring a female heroine (Shailene Woodley), launched to $54.6 million in March 2014.

From Cross Creek Pictures, Walk Among Tombstones earned a B+ CinemaScore. It is coming in well behind this year’s Non-Stop, which debuted to $28.9 million. However, that film, like Neeson’s Taken franchise or Unknown, were rated PG-13, versus an R for Tombstones (insiders also note Tombstones‘ darker tone).

The movie, costing a reported $23 million to make and playing in 2,712 locations, is based on Lawrence Block‘s best-selling mystery novels and stars Neeson as ex-New York City cop Matt Scudder, who now works as an unlicensed private investigator and is hired by a drug dealer to find the dealer’s kidnapped wife.

Universal is distributing Tombstones in the U.S., while Entertainment One has Canada. Older males, as expected, are most interested in seeing the film, but their wives or girlfriends could try to convince them to see This Is Where I Leave You instead.

This Is Where I Leave You is a marked departure for Levy, who generally sticks to big commercial fare. The dramedy, playing in 2,868 theaters, cost $20 million to make but certainly doesn’t lack star power, boasting a cast led by Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne and Jane Fonda. It earned a B+ CinemaScore.

From Warner Bros. and based on Jonathan Tropper‘s novel, This Is Where I Leave You follows four siblings who reunite at their family home to sit shiva for their father (Tropper wrote the adapted screenplay). The movie made its world premiere earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival and is projected to open in the low to mid teens.

Several other Toronto titles debut this weekend, albeit in more limited runs, including Kevin Smith‘s Tusk, which A24 rolled out in roughly 600 theaters Friday, and Relativity Media’s British comedy Hector and the Search for Happiness, which is only playing in New York and Los Angeles. Tusk is projected to earn $1 million-plus for the weekend.

Other new specialty offerings include Mia Wasikowska‘s Tracks, from The Weinstein Co., and Amplify’s The Zero Theorem, directed by Terry Gilliam.

Elsewhere, Screen Gems’ No Good Deed placed No. 4 on its second Friday with $3 million from 2,175 theaters for a weekend gross in the $9 million to $9.5 million range, and putting the thriller’s domestic total close to $40 million.

Dolphin Tale 2 rounded out the Top Five with $2.14 million. That’s off 50 percent from last Friday; in comparison, the first Dolphin Tale only dipped 32 percent at the same point. Dolphin Tale 2 is now on track to earn less than $9 million this weekend.

Guardians of the Galaxy
added $1.38 million on Friday (off 35 percent). On Sunday, Guardians will pass Iron Man 2 to become the fourth highest-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe title.

A Friday estimate for Tusk is not currently available.

Weekend Projections

1. The Maze Runner – $30 million
2. A Walk Among the Tombstones – $14 million
3. This is Where I Leave You – $11.5 million
4. No Good Deed – $9 million
5. Dolphin Tale 2 – $8.5 million
6. Guardians of the Galaxy – $5.5 million

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Box-Office Success: ‘Fault In Our Stars’ Crosses $300 Million Worldwide

the_fault_in_our_stars_2James Bridges/Twentieth Century Fix ‘The Fault in Our Stars’
The $12 million tearjerker has now earned more than fellow YA film adaptation ‘Divergent,’ also starring Shailene Woodley

Continuing its dazzling run, YA drama The Fault in Our Stars has crossed the $300 million mark at the global box office in a major win for Fox 2000 and author John Green.

Fault in Our Stars, costing just $12 million to make, is easily one of the most profitable titles of 2014 so far, if not the most profitable, and has now surpassed fellow Shailene Woodley YA film adaptation Divergent ($286.3 million).

Younger females have fueled Fault in Our Stars, starring Woodley and Ansel Elgort as two young lovers who meet in a cancer support group. Josh Boone directed from an adapted script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.

Overseas, where it is still in release, the movie has earned $175.1 million. Domestically, it has taken in $124.8 million for a total $299.9 million through Wednesday, pushing its cume past $300 million sometime on Thursday.

Fault in Our Stars opened in early June in North America, beating fellow opener Edge of Tomorrow, Warner Bros.’ big-budget sci-fi actioner starring Tom Cruise, in its debut weekend.

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Pump! (2014) Movie Trailer

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Watch the Trailer of this movie:

Pump Official Trailer 1 (2014) – Documentary HD

PUMP – In Select Theaters September 12, 2014
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Starring: John Hofmeister (Founder and CEO at Citizens for Affordable Energy), Elon Musk (CEO & Cheif Product Architect of Tesla Motors), Luiz Inácio da Silva (Brazil’s president from 2003-2011)
Directed by: Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell
Written by: Johnny O’Hara
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Like PUMP on Facebook: facebook.com/PumpTheMovie
Follow PUMP on Twitter: @PumpTheMovie
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Official Website: www.pumpthemovie.com
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Official Poster: http://bit.ly/Pump_Poster
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Synopsis
PUMP is an inspiring, eye-opening documentary that tells the story of America’s addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today, and explains clearly and simply how we can end it – and finally win choice at the pump.


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Box office update: ‘Maze Runner’ rakes in $11 million Friday

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Image Credit: Ben Rothestein

The Maze Runner, the new YA adaptation that hit theaters Friday, chalked up an estimated $11 million for a first-place finish, proving that this over-saturated genre has life left in it yet. Populated with a slew of handsome young male actors led by Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien, The Maze Runner, based on the popular best-selling novel by James Dashner, is on track to pull in close to $30 million. (That’s far better than The Giver, which opened in August to $12 million.) And with Twentieth Century Fox already deep into pre-production on the film’s sequel, the early numbers have to come as a welcome relief for the studio.

Things aren’t so rosy for the other new releases opening this weekend. Universal Pictures bowed the latest Liam Neeson-starrer A Walk Among the Tombstones in wide release, hoping to lure in the reliable Neeson fan base. But the ultra-violent R-rated drama from writer/director Scott Frank earned only an estimated $4.7 million Friday, for a likely finish in second place around $15 million — far lower than Neeson’s recent outings.

The final new wide release of the bunch, Shawn Levy’s star-studded This is Where I Leave You, doesn’t seem to have the allure Warner Bros. was hoping for. Sure, the family dramedy starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda cost only $20 million, but the studio has been marketing it as a very big movie, trying to lure in discerning adult moviegoers. But middling reviews for the movie haven’t helped its box office chances. The R-rated movie grossed an estimated $3.9 million Friday for an estimated three-day finish of $11 million.

The rest of the top five should be filled out by last weekend’s holdovers, with the Idris Elba-starrer No Good Deed filling the fourth spot. The PG-13 rated thriller earned an estimated $2.95 million on Friday for a cume of $32.9 million. Finally, the family flick Dolphin Tale 2 grossed an additional $2.14 million Friday, putting its total at $20.2 million.

1. Maze Runner — $11 million

2. A Walk Among the Tombstones — $4.7 million

3. This is Where I Leave You — $3.9 million

4. No Good Deed — $2.95 million

5. Dolphin Tale 2 — $2.14 million

Check back here tomorrow morning for a full weekend report.

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‘The end of Earth will not be the end of us': New posters for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar revealed

Interstellar chronicles the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.


New posters for Interstellar have been released and they are more epic than ever.

And through them we see more of the expansive universe that Christopher Nolan has created in this explorative sci-fi flick.

From a space station hovering in the purple depths of space, to three astronauts emerging from their ship onto the watery terrain of a new planet, the film boasts beautiful visuals as well as an Interstellar cast.

Interstellar 1‘Mankind’s next step will be our greatest': New posters for Interstellar released

Interstellar 2‘The end of Earth will not be the end of us': The visually stunning posters unveil more secrets about the film

And to go with the aesthetically pleasing images are some rather inspirational taglines.

One poster reads ‘mankind’s next step will be our greatest’, while another proclaims ‘the end of Earth will not be the end of us.’

The hotly anticipated movie puts Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey in the leading role, with fellow Oscar winner Anne Hathaway as co-star.

Interstellar 3‘Go Further': We get a glimpse of the expansive universe Christopher Nolan has created

Interstellar chronicles the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

McConaughey plays Cooper – a trailed pilot, engineer and widowed father – who leaves his two children behind on a dying earth in a bid to save humanity.

The supporting cast is made up by Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck and British screen legend Michael Caine.

Interstellar 4‘Mankind was born on Earth, it was never meant to die here': Matthew McConaughey takes the lead

It is the latter who is key to persuading widowed engineer’s Cooper to head out on a potentially deadly mission to find a new world for humans to live on.

He tells him: ‘We must confront the reality that nothing in our solar system can help us. We are not meant to save the world we are meant to leave it.

‘The trailer opens with planet Earth devastated environmentally and agriculturally, leaving the planet nearly uninhabitable.

Interstellar opens in IMAX and regular cinemas on November 7

305233id1d_Interstellar_Teaser_Intl_27x40_1Sheet.inddComing Soon: Interstellar opens in IMAX and regular cinemas on November 7

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