Maze Runner: The Death Cure It's always helpful when a movie's title tells you right up front what it's going to take to MAKE IT STOP.
You may have thought the genre of dystopian YA fiction was deader than a doornail at the multiplex. But that was just because the release of the third Maze Runner flick had been delayed a year after an on-set accident caused damage to star Dylan O'Brien's face. ("Pussy!" – Mark Hamill. "What's a face?" – Henry Cavill.) In the story, our young heroes have to venture into a walled metropolis in order to rescue one of their captured comrades. Sounds meaty, right? Enough to squeeze at least a couple of flicks out of, Hunger Games style, even though the source novel was a single volume? Well, director Wes Ball nixed that approach early on – even before second installment The Scorch Trials underperformed at the box office, raising big question marks about the long-term viability of the franchise. Which might be a shame, given that advance reviews of Death Cure indicate Ball has developed into a fairly adept director of on-screen action.
Still, I spy an out here: There are two prequel books in the series just waiting to be mined for material if the moviegoing audience falls in love with O'Brien's face all over again. (Which would technically count as falling in love for the first time, but whatever.) And even if they don't, there's always TV, as the Divergent saga proved by limping off to Starz after its multiplex following diverged from giving a shit. So maybe in a year or so, we'll be seeing these maze-crazy kids scurrying around on Reelz or something. Better protect that grill, Dylan, just in case.
Also playing: Mary and the Witch's Flower A bunch of Miyazaki disciples made this traditionally hand-animated feature, adapted from an English children's book of the 1970s. Its heroine is a young girl who is whisked away to a school for witches after discovering a blue flower that gives its holder magic powers for 12 hours. Yeah, Aaron Paul tried to sell me something like that once.
Paul isn't among the Western actors who provided voices for the stateside version of this Japanese-made film. But Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent are, along with Ruby Barnhill, star of The BFG. And this is where I get into trouble. See, Katie Way, author of the now-infamous Babe.net article about Aziz Ansari, has tweeted that "Watching dubbed anime is racist." And since, like all good Americans, I have rapidly elevated Way to a guru status second only to that of Oprah, I really have to rethink my interest in seeing this movie. On second thought, she could merely have been kidding; who ever knows for sure with that scamp? I guess I'll just have to think about it over a nice glass of wine. (Red, of course. Thanks for asking.)