Film No 8 (2015) : The Maze Runner

maze runner 2Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is deposited into The Glade, a community of boys which appears to be self-sufficient but whose existence is dominated by The Maze. The massive stone structure opens every day, allowing an elite group of boys, known as ‘The Runners’ to explore its labyrinthine corridors and try to identify a way out. But not everyone who goes in to the maze comes out unscathed; in fact, not every Runner comes out at all. The Maze is guarded by Grievers, vicious, mechanical creatures with a devastating sting. Thomas and a group of Gladers enter the Maze to try to break its codes once and for all. But as Thomas begins to regain his memories of his life before The Glade, the truth about his knowledge of the Maze and its creators starts to be revealed.

The action is fast-paced and there is an impressive line-up of accomplished teenage actors: Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter and Aml Ameen all star. Dystopian storylines are in vogue at present and this adaptation of James Dashner’s book has no doubt appealed to fans of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’. However, even though it is exciting, I don’t think ‘The Maze Runner’ is as interesting as other current films in this genre.

I want to confess one thing though; this film scared me. There were moments when I was watching through my fingers, in the same way as I used to watch the Daleks when I was a kid. Apparently, ‘The Maze Runner’ was rated 15 when it was in the cinemas; however, by removing or reducing a mere 43 seconds of ‘threat, violence and injury’, it was rated 12A for theatrical release. Hence why it appeared on Sky as a 12A. IMHO (this is a teenage movie, got to get with the lingo!) 43 seconds was not enough.

Book No 29 (2014) : Oryx and Crake

oryxMargaret Atwood is a genius. I have found some of her longer works inaccessible, but ‘Oryz and Crake’ is absorbing and thought-provoking. It is the first of a trilogy, followed by ‘The Year of the Flood’ and ‘MaddAddam’.

Snowman (aka Jimmy and Thickney) is surviving in a post-Apocalyptic landscape. He lives on the coast, taking care of the Crakers, a gentle and peaceful race. Survival depends on being able to forage water, food, weapons from the remains of civilisation. He also needs to find shades and protection from the blazing sun. Snowman is lonely and his mind keeps drawing him back to the past – to his childhood, university days, his friendship with the brilliant Crake and his relationship with Oryx. Through these flashbacks, the reader discovers his connection to the downfall of the human race as we know it – and it’s not pleasant.

The tantalising aspect of the book is that the scenario seems so plausible. Huge scientific multi-nationals have come up with technological solutions to the problems of world over-population, disease and conflict. ‘Pigoons’ are animals which have been created as hosts for growing multiple kidneys; more cost-effective and less distressing than ‘cloning a harvest child’. Having cured all the known illnesses, the pharmaceutical giants are running out of ways to make money, so, they manufacture some new strains and distribute them via innocuous vitamin pills. The wherewithal to do these things probably exists in 2014, which made me feel more than slightly uneasy whilst reading.

‘Oryx and Crake’ is a flight of fancy But it left me feeling that our plane may already be taxi-ing along the runway.