Review: The Maze Runner is a dazzling addition to the coveted young adult genre

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Everyone postulated that the fate of the adaptation of James Dashner’s young adult hit book The Maze Runner will not be a merry one. But the film emerges as a stunning surprise unlike the herd of YA tryouts since Twilight and The Hunger Games. The Maze Runner springs an anomaly because of it’s focus on the don’ts rather than the do’s of YA adaptations.

The Maze Runner starts downright with a memory-less Dylan O’Brien heading up in a cage into a grassy arena called the Glade led by Alby (Aml Ameen). The Glade is surrounded on all sides by 100 feet tall walls concealing the former in the center of a giant maze. The walls of the Glade are open throughout the day for the boyland to explore the ever-changing maze. During the night the walls remain closed but the maze is raided by bio-mechanical creatures called Grievers who sting the Gladers to death. The Glade is a structured system with rules for its survival consisting of Runners to navigate the maze, Builders, Medics and Chefs. Thomas Brodie-Sangster (of Game of Thrones fame) plays Newt, Alby’s substitute, and Blake Cooper plays the youngest Glader and brings out the comic moments in the film. Will Poulter (We’re the Millers) plays dominant bully Gally. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien)  remembers only his name in a day just like every other boy. Things go awry when Thomas goes rogue breaking every code of the Glade and manages to survive a night inside the maze. Suddenly a sex ratio springs with a advent of a girl Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) who is the last person to be sent to the Glade. Thomas’ antics lead to guys getting stung in the day and the doors remaining ajar in the night for the invasion of Grievers, leaving them with no choice but to escape through the maze.

First-time director Wes Ball, previously just a visual effects expert, was handed reins of this films based on an 8-minute CGI fim. Ball pulls off a more than commendable job with a $34 million budget. He keeps character development at bay and keeps the plot ticking, albeit he does take his sweet time in showing us the maze. The visual effects are laudable. The screenplay is watertight knowing its direction to climax which has its own climax. Ball also extracts supreme performances from every young actor. The Maze Runner is a must watch for the young adult genre and is easily comparable to The Hunger Games.

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Review: Edge of Tomorrow is Tom Cruise’s manifestation led sci-fi blockbuster

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Live…Die…Repeat. The Repeat part is the ultimate seduction in Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow. The last film with looping time we saw was Source Code. This is obviously the biggest canvas for these kinds of stories. Edge of Tomorrow is a film which could only be ridden by Cruise owing his enviable filmography .

Unlike his typical role, Tom plays a hapless Major William Cage who ends up as a soldier in the invasion of alien creatures called Mimics. He kills a creature but succumbs himself with the creature’s blood all over his face, only to wake up again at the start of the day, as a soldier again. One fine repeat of the day in the war, he finds our pretty Emily Blunt. Blunt plays Rita Vrataski, the famous hero in the invasion of Verdun. She believes in Cage’s time looping story, which others take as tales, by confessing that she too had this power during her stint at Verdun. Together they set out to win the war with Cage’s “cheat code”.

Tom Cruise just doesn’t age. He is too awesome even if his character is not his cliché confident type. Emily Blunt is sublime but is nothing more than a sidekick. Doug Liman does superb as a director. There are some hilarious death scenes. Bill Paxton (Master Sergeant Farell) and Brendan Glesson (General Brigham) are a treat. Editor James Herbert has a very important role in this looping story. He fares just well. There is a total of more than a couple of minutes of the film which should have been deleted. The cinematography is just majestic.

Edge of Tomorrow is definitely a stereotype Tom Cruise film. The best part is that the action never ceases. You might wanna sleep over some editing follies to enjoy this one.

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Review: Rise of an Empire sails victorious without the winds of comparisons

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It begins as a whisper. Well, it really does! And it accelerates to battle cries in a blink. 300: Rise of an Empire is the gratification to the lust of Zack Synder’s 2007 cult blockbuster 300. It’s less of a sequel and more of a side-quel. This time there will be blood in the water, oh wait! There’s fire as well!

Leonidas and his 300 are at war with Xerxes’ infinite army. Rise of an Empire is what unfurls parallel to this. Greek general Themistokles, Sullivan Staplelton, leads the Greek’s slender navy against Xerxes’ emphatic navy. Eva Green’s Artemisia leads the Persian navy expecting a cake walk. Then there is thick blood in every inch of the screen. A list of ambitious commanders from Artemisia is tormented by Themistokles’ tactics only to scorch the erotic scene of the movie. Sullivan Stapleton is exceptional in his role, though he won’t garner many cheers due to the obvious comparisons with Gerrard Butler. Eva Green is the heart and soul of the film. She rides it, amps it at her will. Lena Headey has a miniscule role, but she manages her influence easily, after her skyrocketed fame after Game of Thrones. You get her when you want her onscreen.

Director Noam Murro has made an impact with his unique style. The visuals are realistic, brave and bold. The cinematography is fantastic. The story is fine but the screenplay could have been better.Rise of an Empire is quite convincing as a standalone thought, but the comparison with its predecessor may not quench the thirst of everyone especially since not many know about it being a side-quel. If you’d be a little lenient on comparisons you’d end up enjoying this massacre.

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Narendra Modi is “King of Biggest Democracy”

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“It’s time to live for India, not die for India.”

Narendra Modi’s words after his thumping victory will remain till the end of time. NaMo will be India’s only Prime Minister to be born after independence, hence the perception to live for the nation. Frankly stating, no one, not even Modi, must have imagined the real “congress” of Indians in this historic election.

Narendra Modi’s Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) clinched 282 seats to achieve a clinical majority against the required 272 (out of 543) in the 16th Lok Sabha. Its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) further breezed on to 336 seats. The Congress could only salvage a meagre 44 and the Union Progressive Alliance (UPA) could tally just 58 seats. The BJP clean swept Gujarat (26), Rajasthan (25) and Delhi (7).

A year ago, the Congress and BJP both faced leadership crises. BJP was rescued by NaMo, but the Congress failed (and may still) to find a leader. NaMo steered through his opponents after being declared as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. His speeches were targeted to the family-centred politics of the Gandhis, the mammoth corruption expositions of 2G, coal, CWG, Adarsh and a lot more. But he didn’t limit himself to just that. He boasted of what the Congress did not have-an example of development, Modi’s Gujarat model. He used this model in every speech to spark hope in the people. After all, he could not win banking solely on pessimistic statements. NaMo never lost control in any speech or interview, driving the nation where he wanted.

India is famed for its unity in diversity. But only Indians know that this unity is seldom visible in elections. Majority of Indian political parties were established on the name of religion, caste and region. The mere colors of the party flags will tell you the chronicles of their vote bank. It is for the first instance in Indian history that dalits (considered as the lowest caste in India who hence gave up Hinduism) and Muslims have unanimously given their mandate to the BJP (a party devoted to Hinduism). Kudos to the state of Uttar Pradesh, always taken for granted to vote their caste and religion, for having given a stupendous 71 seats out of 80 to Modi’s BJP. Modi himself had fountain-headed UP by contesting from Varanasi.

An elated Narendra Modi now carries the aspirations of over a billion people. Jobs, economy, security, water, electricity, infrastructure are still the words we utter. Will one step by every Indian indeed take India a billion steps ahead? It’s the season of hope!

Top 10 books to be adapted into films in 2014

2014 will see the inception of a few fresh book series being adapted for super-hits. Some best-selling solo novels will see the light of the awaited screens. The existing adaptations will witness their sequels in the cinemas.

1. Mockingjay

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Author: Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games trilogy has been a game-changer for Lionsgate. The first two films have been unanimously appreciated. Director Francis Lawrence and actor Jennifer Lawrence will give us the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1.

2. Divergent

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Author: Veronica Roth

The Divergent series is the latest adaptation by Summit Entertainment after the successful Twilight series. The first film titled Divergent stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Zoë Kravitz and is directed by Neil Burger.

3. The Hobbit

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Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

The single novel has been adapted as a trilogy by Peter Jackson. The first two of them have been blockbusters. The finale The Hobbit: There And Back Again cannot disappoint.

4. Gone Girl

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Author: Gillian Flynn

David Fincher has made this mystery thriller scripted by Gillian Fylnn. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pyke star as Nick and Amy Dunne respectively.

5. Dracula

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Author: Bram Stoker

The horror classic will be remade by Gary Shore. Luke Evans plays the bloodsucker vampire Vlad Tepes. Sara Goden plays his wife.

6. Vampire Academy

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Author: Richelle Mead

The young adult paranormal romance has been adapted by Mark Waters as Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. It stars Zoey Deutch, Danila Kozlovsky and Lucy Fry.

7. The Fault In Our Stars

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Author: John Green

The blockbuster novel is being adapted by director Josh Boone. The romantic drama stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff.

8. The Monuments Men

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Author: Robert M. Edsel

George Clooney has writen and co-produced The Monuments Men starring Matt Damon, Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett.

9. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

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Author: Frank Miller

Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez have made the sequel to their Sin City. The sequel stars Jessica Alba, Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson and Joseph Gordan-Lewitt.

10. The Maze Runner

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Author: James Dashner

The best selling sci-fi mystery has been adapted by Wes Ball. It stars Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Sangster, Kaya Scodelario and Will Poulter.

Top 10 anticipated films of 2014

2014 will have a plethora of sequels and reboots. The sci-fi genre will see a new level. The 10 most anticipated films have fantasy, dystopian, comic and sci-fi as fountainheads. The year is the return of top directors and franchises.

1. Interstellar

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Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Mathew McConaughey, Anne Hathway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck

Release Date: November 7

The blockbuster director Christopher Nolan returns after The Dark Knight trilogy with a sci-fi film. Interstellar has a team set out in space and involves traveling through a wormhole. Nolan returns with an enviable ensemble cast with Mathew McConaughey as lead. The IMAX photography is highly anticipated.

2. Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast:  Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci, Sophia Myles, T. J. Miller, Titus Welliver, Li Bingbing

Release Date: June 27

The fourth installment of the Transformers series is set four years after the events of the prequel. Shia LaBeouf is no longer a part of the franchise. Mark Wahlberg is the new lead with Nicola Peltz playing his daughter. The film shall also be semi reboot of the franchise.

3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1

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Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland

Release Date: November 21

Katniss Everdeen will start a revolution against the evil minded Capitol and reunite the districts of Panem. The retaliation shall test her trust in her comrades once again.

4. The Hobbit: There And Back Again

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Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Luke Evans

Release Date: December 17

The final film of the Hobbit series will have Smaug trying to destroy Dale against the black-arrow archer’s intentions. Bilbo Baggins has to find the Archenstone and transfer the power back to the Dwarves of Erebor. Gandalf’s incomplete encounter will Sauron can ignite more wars.

5. X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Director: Bryan Singer

Cast:  Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart

Release Date: May 23

Wolverine is back where he suits best. Professor X and Magneto join hands to fight a war in the past so that the one in the future does not start. This film has the best cast for the year 2014 piping Nolan’s Interstellar.

6. 300: Rise of an Empire

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Director: Noam Murrro

Cast:  Sullivan Stapleton, Lena Headey, Eva Green, Hans Matheson, Rodrigo Santoro

Release Date: August 22

Although Zack Snyder has not directed the sequel to his most celebrated film, Rise of an Empire has big expectations riding on it. This time the war is on water. The navies of Lena Heady and Eva Green clash in the bloodied waters.

7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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Director: Marc Webb

Cast:  Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti

Release Date: May 2

Spiderman will realise that his foes have one thing in common: OsCorp. On the stint to find the secrets about his father, Peter Parker will take on two villains, Electro and Rhino.

8. Transcendence

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Director: Wally Pfister

Cast: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara,

Release Date: April 17

Cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directional debut after working long with Christopher Nolan. Transcendence is a sci-fi starring Johnny Depp as a computer researcher with a path breaking invention which juggles between a boon or bane scenario.

9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Cast:  Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Emily VanCamp, Samuel L. Jackson

Release Date: August 22

The second outing of the first avenger has him dealing with the Winter Soldier, Captain America’s best friend turned against him. The film also sees Anthony Mackie as Falcon having telepathic powers and flight. Does Cap get a girl finally is the real interest.

10. How to Train Your Dragon 2

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Director: Dean DeBlois

Cast:  Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T. J. Miller

Release Date: June 13

Hiccup and Toothless will fight a battle for humans and dragons. The prequel was extremely loved and How To Train Your Dragon 2 is the most highly anticipated animation film of 2014.

Sherlock Season Preview: Analysis of how he faked it

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What’s your theory? That’s what their first poster for the third season asked. Sherlock Holmes definitely knew what was in store for him on the roof. He knew he had to take the leap. So he hatched two plans. One, which was obvious, to fake the death. Two, which I think, play a mind-game game with Jim Moriarty which would leave Jim with a singular choice of killing himself to defeat him; hence getting rid of Moriarty once for all. A live Moriarty is smart enough to know of a fake death when he sees one.

Molly’s involvement seems inescapable. Switching DNA’s could be her task. But since her involvement is mentioned with indirect surety, it can also be a trap for the audience to distract us from something or someone more significant, courtesy of the master writer Steven Moffat. Sherlock makes John Watson stand at a particular spot to hear his “note”. This is a spot from where John can see Sherlock falling for the roof, but surprise, he cannot see Sherlock’s impact on the ground. Another straightforward fact is that the cyclist who rams into Watson buys some time for Sherlock. A truck loaded with body sized packages is parked right along the road next to a marked walking pavement. This truck unusually drives away just after the “death”.

There are many other things purposely fed to the audience to have possible alternate theories so that there cannot be one predictable ultimate standout resolution to the Reichenback Fall, or are these theories part of one big theory? The kidnapped girl in the last episode is scared to death when Sherlock sees her for the first time. Did Moriarty have a double of Sherlock to scare the girl; and did Sherlock get hold of him? The involvement of Mycroft Holmes cannot be ignored. He has the power and personal intelligence to accomplish such an act. Sherlock is blackmailed over Watson, Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson on the roof. But in the teaser of Season 3 we hear Sherlock saying “the one person who did not matter to me at all was the person who mattered to me the most”. Could this person be Mycroft Holmes? One fact is clear irrespective of that question. The fact that Mycroft Holmes knew that Sherlock Holmes faked his death right from the moment he learnt of his death.

Sherlock premiers on New Year’s Day on BBC One. The fans have had a long wait which could not be quenched by the mini-episode on Christmas. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are the first demand of 2014. We can be assured of a lot of brain work from our resourceful, dynamic and enigmatic persona; although we might get to know how he faked it only at the end of the first episode. Till then spread the word, #SherlockLives!