Review: THE MAZE RUNNER Will Find Its Way To The Right Audience
Although this fan base guarantees a financially viable franchise, as a non-reader of young adult fiction I still found enough mystery and progression in The Maze Runner to warrant an entertaining if forgettable experience.
The film throws you immediately into a perilous situation as protagonist Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) rapidly ascends in a cage from an unknown place to the glade; a forest clearing that he soon finds out is in the middle of a gargantuan maze that surrounds all sides. He, and the other inhabitants who are also male, conveniently have no memory of how they got there, or why. They remember only their names, and for years have built a community. Too afraid to enter the maze they assign runners, boys of reasonable athletic skill to run the structure and map it out. Issues abound as Thomas's arrival signals major change and new dangers both from within the maze and the glade itself.
Tensions and the situation reach breaking point when a new inhabitant arrives and events reveal Thomas may know more than he thinks.
Saying much else would spoil the main benefit of the film; the mystery of what is happening and why. With nary a hint of time or place the viewer's mind races for possible answers regarding every aspect of The Maze Runner.
Aside this overarching mystery and some wild events that twist and turn proceedings, the community in the glade offer another layer to the film worth pondering. With rules to abide by and a hierarchical system in place, these industrious young men seem to have some order in the chaos, but picking apart each member, cracks begin to reveal and elements of masculine dominance, control and manipulation are revealed, reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies.
Thomas has some good chemistry with the more rag-tag members of the community such as runner Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), but as plot dictates he finds an antagonist in the stubborn Gally (Will Poulter) who for some reason does not want to leave the glade.
The less said about Teresa's arrival the better. Adding nothing to the film and phoning in most scene's Kaya Scodelario's character is inessential, which is a shame given her incredible acting in Wuthering Heights, Skins and Southcliffe.
The maze itself is an uncanny, if familiar place. Overgrown vines cover the mammoth granite walls, it is a dull concept brought to life by some impressive CGI when the maze transfigures itself. The evil within the maze and the hints dropped throughout the film certainly keep this generic looking place interesting enough.
When all is said and done and the big inevitable twist drops it is, frankly, handled poorly. There is no wow moment or catharsis and proceedings are wrapped up quickly with an open-end everyone can see coming.
The Maze Runner, although part of a trilogy, can be enjoyed on its own. The contained setting and story of the glade people make for a compelling mystery that moves well, save for some occasionally poor direction from first-timer Wes Ball, but it is, as always, the fans who will get the most out of an adaptation like this.
The Maze Runner has just opened in cinema across Australia and will open in the US on the 19th of September.
The Maze Runner
- Wes Ball
- Noah Oppenheim (screenplay)
- Grant Pierce Myers (screenplay)
- T.S. Nowlin (screenplay)
- James Dashner (novel)
- Dylan O'Brien
- Aml Ameen
- Ki Hong Lee
- Blake Cooper