The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner photo starrating-2stars.jpgThomas (Dylan O’Brien ) wakes up in a mysterious community of teenaged boys with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. He soon learns he is in The Glade, a habitat surrounded by a massive maze. Every teen (known as a Glader) has been entrusted with an important purpose within the colony, not the least of which is the Runner. These are the people who explore the Maze in an effort to map a way out of the tiny territory in which they are trapped. Complicating matters are large mechanical spider-like creatures they call Grievers which patrol the maze making escape even harder.

With one exception, all the adolescents look like they are on special diets, work out constantly to maintain a lean frame and have less than 15% body fat. I happen to know The Maze Runner was shot in Baton Rouge, LA, but it feels more like that other LA in California. There’s one departure from the standard selections from Central Casting – a chubby boy named Chuck (Blake Cooper) who, with his more unique appearance, becomes the most interesting personality by default. Oh but brace yourself because his story arc is extremely frustrating. The guys appear to represent ethnicities from every corner of the globe, yet all speak with an American accent. Again there’s one deviation, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) who’s like the second in command. Everyone sports nicely coifed hair and clean casual wear that is tailored to fit perfectly. I wouldn’t have noticed any of this had the drama been more compelling. Sadly when the only narrative is simply “boys vs. mechanical monsters”, your mind tends to deliberate over the peculiarities of the film.

The Maze Runner starts out mildly intriguing. The set up is curious enough that we want to see how things will develop. These youths in the wild get along pretty well for the most part. Everybody seems cool with the distribution of tasks, with sole objections coming from Gally (Will Poulter). It’s a variation of Lord of the Flies minus the commentary that made that novel interesting, the idea that man is inherently barbaric. Unfortunately more substance is sorely needed. As the saga progresses, it doesn’t really develop into anything at all. By the end we’re left with a supremely unsatisfying ending that basically says, this is only the beginning. Stay tuned for the sequel: The Scorch Trials. This adaptation is based on the teen lit bestseller by James Dashner. To the uninitiated, it’s hard to understand how this flimsy plot could sustain an entire book.  In fact, it was so popular he wrote 3 sequels.  Readers that can fill in the many unexplained details, will surely enjoy this more. Not having read the text, the movie could barely hold my attention for part 1, so part 2? Uh no thanks. The thought is anything but a-MAZE-zing.

09-21-14

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17 Responses to “The Maze Runner”

  1. You thought ‘Lord of the Flies,’ I thought of the TV series ‘Lost’ which I could understand how if it were like ‘Lost’, it could have sustained several books if the focus were on the relationships between the boys, but the problem is the movie starts three years into it, so everything is already established. I would have preferred the film be about Alby building up this society, deciding to do so after figuring the maze was impossible. However, for a film called ‘The Maze Runner’, there was significantly less maze running than one might expect, but again we enter into it with the characters pretty much having the maze solved, so there was less of a sense of discovery to it.

    • I would’ve appreciated a deeper examination of Alby as well. How did he come to power? Why is his rule uncontested? How did the group become self sufficient? Where do they get their food? This could’ve been a thought provoking drama but instead we get random fights of “boys vs. robot spiders”.

      Your regret that the maze had been largely solved at the start is well taken too. How did Alby and Minho solve it? Let’s see the process. So many missed opportunities. We are in complete agreement.

  2. Looking at what is playing this week this was the only thing based on the poster which looked intriguing, seeing your review made me decide to skip it

  3. All I can is the books are much more detailed. Alby and Teresa’s role in the first is much for developed as is the mystery of the maze. I just finished the first book before seeing the movie. I somewhat agree that just seeing the movie may leave more questions and cynicism than answers.

  4. I’ve read the first book in this series and it was juuuust about interesting enough for me to download the second one. Will be interesting to see it visually represented.

  5. This looked big and blockbuster-y from the beginning so the plan was to go in with tempered expectations. Still though, and I’m not sure why here. . .but the fact that these people have names for all the threats — things like ‘the grieves’ and such — is all that really necessary? Haha it seems to be getting to be such a lazy thing to do, although granted that’s how the threats were labeled in the book so. . i guess they have to carry it over. Still, just seems like another forced. . .thing.

    Great review, I probably will see this at some point. Maybe not in theaters after all

  6. Yep. It’s all rather pointless, huh?

  7. I kinda liked it for what it was. The first half was way better than the end. I was on the edge of my seat at times, trying to figure things out. I do wish there would have been more explanations about the maze and how it all began. 3 stars.

  8. The Maze Runner sounds really uninteresting. Based on the trailers, I was wondering how they might sustain the flimsy premise. I’m not surprised to hear that it doesn’t go very far. Glad I missed this one while it was in theaters.

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