James Dashner’s The Maze Runner has run right off the pages of his young adult novel and onto the silver screen.
In order to accurately describe the film, it must be understood that it features its own plethora of slang words. The Glade, where the majority of the movie takes place, is surrounded by a Maze, the pattern of which changes every night, and “Runners” chart the maze. Meanwhile, they are avoiding monsters in the Maze called “Grievers,” which are bio-mechanical creatures featuring the body of a slug, the robotic tail of a scorpion, and the legs of a spider. Each month a newcomer, or “Greenie,” mysteriously arrives at the Glade with supplies for the others already there.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), a practically messianic figure, serves as the protagonist. He has come to the Glade without any of his memories, except for his name. The Glade is populated by other teenage boys (making the film quite easy on the eyes), and it is run by Alby (Aml Ameen) and his second-in-command Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster). The Runners, led by Minho (Ki Hong Lee), explore the maze in hopes of escaping from the Glade, and the film follows Thomas in his own attempts to rescue himself and his friends from the Glade. Really, The Maze Runner can only be described as the love child of Lost, Lord of The Flies, and The Hunger Games.
The majority of the boys in the film, although they are supposed to be teenagers, look forty — except for English actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who has found the elixir of life and has not aged since his role as Sam in Love Actually. There are many reasons why the director, Wes Ball, chose to cast older actors — mostly because of those pesky child labor laws, so as the audience we can only be understanding and forgiving. Unfortunately, it takes the audience out of the world when all you’re thinking is, “Wow, three years in the Glade, and you’ve gone from 16 to 25. Puberty must have hit you hard.”
The movie suffered many of the same problems that the book did. It moves at a slow pace with no definitive climatic scene. Although creating a mildly boring plot, the slow pace does allow for a lot of suspense, which keeps the audience interested throughout the whole film. It’s also, unfortunately, rife with shakily shot scenes. Although the cinematography makes the scenes feel more hectic and adds to the overall anarchical theme of the film, it is a little nauseating to have to watch so much happening on the screen. It’s not really a film for those with motion sickness.
Overall, The Maze Runner has the right amount of cliches in it: a derivative dystopian storyline with archetypal characters that make the plot complex enough to keep the audience interested but remains easy to follow. As the first feature film for the director Wes Ball and the three writers Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, and T.S. Nowlin, the film is a success. The novice team did everything needed for The Maze Runner, which was to pique the audience’s interest enough for them to want to see the sequel.
Intrigued? Watch the trailer here.