• Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

    Fahrenheit 451 was an imaginative dystopian science-fiction novel written by visionary Ray Bradbury. Despite its age, the content of the novel in times of omnipresent social media and overtly influential politicians has become more important than ever. The idea to merge the core idea of the novel with our contemporary society sounds like an exciting idea on paper. However, the movie is only good at best and doesn't capitalize on its enormous potential.

    On the positive side, the movie evokes a realistic near future with social media and modern technology that look rather close to what we already have nowadays. The film evokes a constantly gloomy atmosphere that suits the sinisters topics that are dealt with. This movie has enough similarities to the novel yet adds a few fresh ideas here and there to make it stand on its own. While this has been criticized by fans and critics alike, I prefer a cleverer and more free-spirited adaptation of a novel than a film that blindly follows a story written half a century ago. Being creative and pushing the boundaries are key messages of the source material and it would have been ironic if the movie hadn't respected these by just projecting the actions and dialogues written such a long time ago onto the big screen. Those who criticize director and writer Ramin Bahrani that he hasn't understood the novel are actually quite wrong and have probably not understood the novel themselves.

    Still, the movie has enough other flaws to discuss. First of all, the story is lacking depth and details. The explanations about the background story leading to the events portrayed in the movie remain vague. The personal story of the protagonist could have been a little bit more fleshed out to make him more sympathetic. The love story between him and the female lead character remains shallow and just ins't credible. The acting performances are at times lacking depth. The protagonist could be a little bit more profound and emotional. The female lead character is less developed than certain side characters. One could have expected more stunning special and visual effects from a movie that takes place in the future but the modest budget might be to blame here. The soundtrack could have also been more impressive and memorable. One shouldn't ignore the fact that the market has been flooded with dystopian science-fiction films since the beginning of the millennium and a movie of this kind needs to be particularly well-executed to leave a mark. This one here doesn't leave a mark.

    In the end, Fahrenheit 451 is an entertaining movie but will soon be forgotten because it fails to add anything fresh to a genre which I adore but that has been overtly popular over the past two decades. If you look for a movie with similar motives that has more depth, you should watch Equilibrium instead.

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  • Kin (2018)

    Kin is a dystopian science-fiction movie and coming-of-age drama. This interesting genre combination has recently been working quite well for a number of great movies like The Giver. However, it isn't the case for Kin. The film wastes a lot of potential and is average at best.

    On the positive side, the characters and settings are solid. Eli comes from a broken home with a criminal stepbrother and a single dad which makes him already more complex, intriguing and realistic than most protagonists in similar films. Eli lives in a city that is as broken as his social life as he strolls through junkyards in Detroit and is already involved in minor criminal activities despite his young age. On his journey across the country to run away from criminals of all kinds and protect a mysterious weapon he has found by coincidence, Eli finds himself in strip clubs, prisons and casinos where he meets more mysterious and sinister characters. These locations certainly aren't appropriate for younger audiences and one has to wonder whether this movie has a target audience at all.

    On the negative side, the movie has a dull pace and uninteresting story that leaves many unanswered questions. Despite its short length, the movie feels stretched and especially the exposition and rising action take too much time to unfold. As soon as the movie gets more interesting, it already ends and hints at a possible sequel. If you don't want to watch a movie without a proper conclusion, you shouldn't give Kin a chance in the first place. The story seems intriguing at first but leaves too many questions unanswered. While the movie has an overall gloomy and realistic touch, the last fifteen minutes drift so much into the realm of science-fiction that it makes the film inconclusive or even confusing. The film also seems to be build upon cameo appearances as interesting characters are introduced, have a few minutes of screen time and vanish soon after or are only shown in a few unimportant scenes. Eli and his stepbrother are followed by a group of thugs, a pimp and his associates, a group of people with seemingly supernatural abilities, the police and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After a dull start, too many things are crammed into the film's second half and the rapid storytelling just isn't satisfactory.

    Kin would have had the potential to be an above average or even great movie if it had taken its time to build upon the different characters, groups and stories. Instead, everything is thrown into a melting pot and unfolds as a film that goes nowhere and fails to offer a proper conclusion. Kin isn't the worst movie of its kind but painfully average despite its initial promise. I wouldn't watch it again and wouldn't recommend it either.

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  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

    Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the third and last part of the trilogy centered around a group of teenagers immune to a virus that has decimated mankind who are hunted down by an organization that wants to conduct brutal experiments on them. I have read quite a few negative reviews about this film but let me tell you that this movie is very good conclusion to the franchise and if you liked the first two films, you will certainly appreciate this final installment as well.

    Everything isn't perfect of course. The story is very predictable. Obviously, one could blame the source material here. However, some twists are foreshadowed in a way that anyone will see through them. To give you one concrete example, there is one character who is constantly looking at his arm, rubbing it, sighing, feeling weak and looking around gloomily. When it is revealed that this character is infected by the virus, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone since the foreshadowing was completely overacted.

    Other than that, the movie is great from start to finish. Some people claim it was overlong but I never felt bored and thought it was entertaining from start to finish. The action sequences are truly intense and make for a worthy Hollywood blockbuster. The special effects are more present than in the first two films but they have the purpose to make for a bombastic finish and especially the final third of the movie is absolutely breathtaking and epic. The acting performances are as solid as in the first two installments and the protagonist has a really strong moral compass as the movie teaches us to never leave your friends behind and always believe in yourself.

    To keep it short, Maze Runner: The Death Cure might be the most spectacular action-thriller of the year. The special effects and action sequences are extremely strong. The acting performances and the characters are also above average. Only the story is a little bit predictable and simple. If you have the chance to enjoy this vivid film at your local cinema, go for it as it will help you get into this bombastic finale. Another option would be to watch all three parts and see the development of the different characters and the story line. Ignore the overtly negative reviews and enjoy this blockbuster for teenagers and young adults.

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  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

    Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second part of the dystopian trilogy about a group of teenagers immune to a virus that has decimated humanity who are hunted by a shady organization. This great second part is an improvement over the solid first movie.

    First of all, this second movie is much more sinister than the first part as the teenagers have to fight creepy creatures roaming in an abandoned world. Especially the scenes in the mysterious underground shelter in the first third of the movie are quite intense. Overall, the varied locations add a lot of atmosphere to the film. Light and sound techniques are executed flawlessly. The creatures also look quite haunting.

    Secondly, the action sequences in this film are more intense than in the previous movie. One sequence that really stands out is when Thomas, the leader of the teenagers, and Brenda, the rebellious sister of one Thomas' deceased soulmates, have to fight their way through a shaky skyscraper with numerous traps. This sequence feels like a vivid roller coaster ride.

    Thirdly, the movie continues to develop the intriguing characters that made the first film so successful. Thomas is shown as brave leader who secretly doubts his capacities. Minho continues to convince as athletic, courageous and resilient young man. Newt represents the intellectual side as he always asks the right questions with a careful yet caring demeanor. In addition to this, the film introduces a few new characters that are quite intriguing. Aris is a quiet outsider who turns out being an observing and smart teenager who saves his new partners from certain death. Jorge is a resilient man with an unpredictable character who can be very caring about his friends in one scene but brutally torture former partners in the next scene. His protegee Brenda is a tough girl who doesn't shy away from conflicts with older men.

    Obviously, the movie also has a few minor flaws. The story is quite predictable. The film has two twists, one shown in the first third and the other one at the very end of the movie. Both of them are very predictable and the fact that the group of teenagers aren't immediately aware of them after everything they have gone through in the first installment, makes them look somewhat naive.

    Personally, I also dislike Teresa's character. She always seems cold, distant and manipulative and never truly helps her partners. She makes me think of Kristen Stewart, not only physically but also regarding her behavior. That isn't meant to be a compliment as it's impossible to empathize with her. Brenda is a much more distinctive female character while Teresa's character doesn't seem to be fully fleshed out.

    In the end, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is an improvement over a good first installment and makes you want to watch the third and final part right away. This film has great atmosphere, breathtaking action sequences and intriguing character development. Those who like dystopian science-fiction movies in the key of the Divergent or The Hunger Games franchises can't get around this franchise. Make sure you have watched the first part and to watch the third and final part later on.

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  • The Maze Runner (2014)

    Based upon the novel by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is the first instalment in a dystopian trilogy that follows a group of youths as they fight for survival and against manipulation in a desolate world destroyed by heat and disease. This first movie follows a very young man who awakes in an elevator that transports him to a group of male youths that is living in a restricted natural environment surrounded by a gigantic maze. This society calls itself the Gladers. The young man doesn't remember his past and only recalls his name after a few hours of confusion: Thomas. He soon realizes that the other boys and men share his fate. They have established some basic rules to live together in peace and harmony as everybody has specific tasks to do. The most important group of people are the athletic runners who go inside the maze when it opens up in the morning and return late at night before the gates close again. The runners are trying to solve the maze to find a way out. However, there are mechanical creatures called grievers who live in the maze which can attack, kill or sting their human victims in a way that makes them go berserk. Thomas is a curious individual who doesn't like following rules and his appearance soon devides the group of youths. Some people support him as they believe he can help them solve the maze while others have gotten used to their lives in a restricted environment and consider him a nuisance. Things take a more dramatic turn when a last human being is sent up the elevator: a girl named Teresa who seems to know Thomas from the past.

    There are several elements that make The Maze Runner stand out positively. The idea to live the story through the eyes of the charismatic Thomas who gradually tries to find out what is going on around him makes the film captivating, mysterious and suspenseful. The fact that the film takes place in a restricted environment soon leads to quite intense relationships which help the story move forwarde. Most viewers will identify with one character or another. If compared to similar dystopian films, this movie doesn't seem to overuse special effects which gives it a more authentic atmosphere. The final half hour is quite tense and violent and leads to a bittersweet finale. On one side, one finally gets some important background information that explains most of that happened in the first ninety minutes but on the other side, the new answers lead to even more questions as the movie ends on a cliffhanger which almost makes it mandatory to watch the second instalment as well. If you're not planning on watching a trilogy, don't watch this movie in the first place.

    The story also has a couple of flaws. The background story seems surprisingly basic and is lacking many details. Some events in the story are illogical or simply left unexplained such as the Glader who got stung outside the maze which is never fully explained. The story obviously also has some similarities to other dystopian movies, especially concerning the bleak future of our planet and the basic main protagonists and antagonists. The movie's middle section is somewhat plodding and the movie could have been shortened by about ten minutes without leaving out anything essential.

    In the end, you will like this film if you're a fan of other dystopian science-fiction movies with a set of young characters like The Hunger Games or The Divergent Series. The unique setting and the mysterious plot certainly make this movie stand out. If you are looking for a creative and unique experience, you might find the movie somewhat boring and predictable.

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