Another film created after a young adult novel series. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this method. The YA novels of late are well written and usually have a nice morality to them, although sometimes they are a bit heavy handed. The issue with the film adaptations whether they are fantastic like The Hunger Games or miss the mark entirely like The Mortal Instruments is they all have the exact same tone. The Maze Runner falls right in the middle of brilliant and mundane and feels like a movie you’ve seen before if for no other reason than the genre the book was written into.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up without any memory of who or where he is. He is on a freight elevator being raised up into a pleasant enough looking glade full of teenage boys. Thomas, and the audience, are quickly brought up to speed on how this whole scenario works. Every month a new boy and a pack of supplies are brought into the glade. They live their lives in the shadow of massive walls. Massive walls that open in a sequence to a giant maze. Gally (Will Poulter) was the first boy in The Glade, making him the default leader. The boys pick Maze Runners (titular!) to scout the maze but I never got a real clear reason as to why. You’d assume it’s for escape but no one seems in a particular rush to leave.
The cast features some promising young talent filling the typical roles needed to tell this kind of story. O’Brien is the hero, the eyes of the audience. Blake Cooper plays Chuck, I swear they called him Chunk half the movie, the portly nice kid who inevitably has to go so the audience feels stakes, Alby (Aml Ameen), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) round out the rest of the main characters and do a good job. Sangster is becoming more and more well known in high profile projects like Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones and a very young Paul McCartney in Nowhere Boy.
The setting and set pieces in Maze Runner are impressive. The Maze itself looks pretty convincing and the monster design was well done. Describing something on the page is one thing, being able to deliver on a promise is another. As good as it looked, the maze itself could’ve done with a little more insight. Moving stone and metal pieces had my mind trying to guess at an explanation. Even the monsters are half organic and half machine. Maybe the answers come later but at least a hint would have been very welcome.
The biggest crime The Maze Runner commits is demanding it be part of a trilogy. Sequels and sagas are a common occurrence in storytelling but the individual stories should be able to stand on their own. A New Hope was one of three planned films originally but if it were the only one to come out it would still be an amazing piece of cinema with a great story. The sequels bolster it, add to the lore. The Maze Runner is a two hour start to the lore. The lore of the trilogy is jammed down the audience’s throat in the final fifteen minutes with some very heavy exposition. As one point Ms. Exposition (Patricia Clarkson actually playing a character called Ava Paige) says “everything is going to change.” A little too on the nose frankly.
All things considered the film is well acted and visually appealing. The story is the weak link, which is never a good sign for a movie. It is good enough to give the sequel a shot, maybe more screen time will give more insight, but it better dazzle when it comes.
Source via Sit Down, Shut Up