Just like The Hunger Games, THE MAZE RUNNER (12: Twentieth Century Fox) ticks all the right boxes for teenagers raised on a steady diet of reality game shows who might also wonder what life would be like without high-speed global communications.
The Hunger Games meets Lord Of The Flies in this fast-paced and enjoyably moody thriller, with Dylan O’Brien in a star-making role.
He plays Thomas, the latest in a line of boys to be dumped in a clearing at the centre of a giant maze while having no memory of who he is or the outside world.
Within those stone walls lurk monsters, their part-mechanisation hinting at a human-led conspiracy, and it’s this combination of politics, action and mystery that draws you deeper into the story.
Power struggles ensue when our hero announces his intention to run the deadly labyrinth and find a way out, without being elected for the task.
Will Poulter is impressive as the naysayer, driven by fear and suspicion, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster is a convincing sage despite his youth.
The truths they uncover on the final leg of the journey pave the way for the sequel in a film with enough twists and turns to keep the momentum building.
> Romantic drama THE BEST OF ME (12: Entertainment One) feels as if it’s assembled from parts of other better weepies.
It follows the reunion of two childhood sweethearts (James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan) at a friend’s funeral, and through flashbacks we see the events of the past that tore them apart.
The film follows the formula of forbidden love, small town drama and dying father figure as it heads off in ludicrous directions. As the plot takes its third or fourth twist, it’s clear that the script’s only intention is to make as sad a movie as possible, with no concern for plausibility.
The two leads have none of the chemistry of their younger screen selves, Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato, and spend much of the running time of nearly two hours looking unhappy and resentful.
> Perplexing and occasionally terrifying Canadian/Spanish thriller ENEMY (15: Curzon) is difficult to love, but it will stay with you.
In what appears to be an alternate, possibly totalitarian Toronto, Jake Gyllenhaal’s soulless college lecturer spots a man who looks exactly like him (also Gyllenhaal) in a rented movie and proceeds to stalk him. He becomes obsessed with finding out who the actor playing the role is and develops an intense relationship with his double’s pregnant wife.
While impending chaos seems to hover over the high-rise city and spiders are crushed for entertainment in a sex club, the two Jakes meet and their lives merge.
> Chloë Grace Moretz, the young star of Let Me In, Kick-Ass and Carrie, is one of cinema’s brightest up-and-coming actresses. But crass and corny ‘afterlife’ romance IF I STAY (12: Twentieth Century Fox) isn’t the best showcase for her talents, though it may strike a chord with ‘tweenage’ girls.
Moretz plays Mia, a teen cello prodigy torn between going away on a music scholarship and staying home with her boyfriend, the first great love of her life. Then a car accident kills her mum, dad and younger brother and leaves Mia comatose, but able to have out-of-body experiences.