Film Review – The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner is the latest film following the trend of adapting young adult novels. James Dashner wrote the novel and it was published in 2009. It feels like the film has been in production for a long time, but it only started shooting in May 2013. To be honest, the film did not come off as anything special in the trailers or any advertising. Surprisingly, The Maze Runner is a thrilling, fun ride that did not feel like any other film released recently.
The film follows a teenager named Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) who arrives suddenly into a glade surrounded by a large, complex maze. Already in the glade are many other young men, some having been there for three years. They have developed a society and order. With Thomas’ arrival things begin to change, and not for the better. The question that haunts the “gladers” and the film’s audience is why are they there and who did this to them. Throughout the film, the question is answered piece by piece to a startling reality.
The Maze Runner begins quite suddenly. You are thrust into it along with Thomas, riding up a cargo elevator that eventually arrives at the glade with supplies. One by one you are introduced to the other gladers, most importantly Alby (Aml Ameen), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and Gally (Will Poulter). There is no back story, and it works wonderfully for throwing the audience in the shoes of Thomas since he like the other gladers do not remember what happened to them prior to arriving. Nothing is seen or heard that Thomas would not. The whole point of the film is to find out the back story and get out of the maze.
The film starts of a little slow as Thomas finds his place in the gladers’ society, but his curiousity and wanting to find a way out thrusts him to the center of the society. He wins the admiration of those who were willing to be content with what they had, and the hatred of those who wished it to stay the same. To put it plainly, Thomas rocks the boat.
When a “runner,” or someone who runs the maze everyday trying to find a way out, is stung by a griever, one of the monsters of the maze, things start going awry. Other than Thomas showing up, it is the catalyst for risks being taken and change starting in the glade. Things happen that leads to Thomas running into the maze as the doors are closing for the night. No one has ever survived a night in the maze since the maze changes during that time and the grievers are let out.
Some may find the maze a little dull. There are not any pits of fire and snakes, but the maze stands overwhelmingly tall. It is foreboding in every sense. One of the scariest elements in my mind is the closing and changing of the concrete walls, threatening to squish you if you don’t move fast enough. It works well, and the CGI in all of the maze scenes is terrific making it satisfyingly enormous. Both with the grievers and the characters trying to find a way out, it reminds one of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Given the relative few recognizable actors and a similar dystopian story to The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner takes a chance that the audience is ready to be thrown into a new threatening environment. It has plenty of thrills and edge-of-your-seat moments to make it a very entertaining film. Even someone as skeptical as me left it a huge fan of what director Wes Ball is able to do with only a maze and plot of grass and trees. Leave your pre-conceived notions of a young adult action film at the door, and The Maze Runner will blow you away.
The Maze Runner is a part of a trilogy of novels, and the second novel, The Scorch Trials, is in the process of being written into a script. If The Maze Runner does well at the box office, the second film will begin shooting in Fall 2014. There is no scene after the credits teasing the sequel, however.