The Maze Runner

the-maze-runner-movie posterThe Maze Runner (2014), Rated “PG-13”
Starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson
Directed by Wes Ball

Review by Xavier Emaka
Rating three and a half stars

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Wes Ball made his directional debut in 2014 with this film and proved he has what it takes to be the next big thing in the film industry.

I thought that the movie was worth watching for teenagers and young adults as well. The cast is — as is often common — much older than the characters they are representing. This is often an issue for me, since often their appearance and actions don’t accurately represent what a person of that age would do.

That quibble aside, The Maze Runner stands out by avoiding the all-too-common trope of unrequited love and repetitive cliches. Instead it sticks to its theme of action-based sci-fiction backed by a mystery to be solved. It also doesn’t have a visible villain, unless you could the maze itself (and the monsters that live within it).

The story begins with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) waking up not knowing where he is and even being unsure of his name. He’s picked up by a community of children — who call themselves the Gladers —  and who live within a large clearing at the center of what appears to be a giant maze. Every morning the maze opens and they run through it in an attempt to find a way, but they have to be back to the glade by nightfall, for every night the maze shuts again and whomever is left inside is subject to being hunted by the monsters that live within it. Anyone trapped inside when the maze closes has never been seen again. When Thomas tries his hand at “running the maze” he makes a surprising discovery.

The acting in this film is good. The cast delivers a strong performance, from the lead to the supporting actors, with Daniel O’Brien making a successful transition to the big screen. Thomas-Brodie Sangster also does a fine job as the second in command of the Gladers. The CGI is also well done.

Unfortunately, the film takes a bit too long to get into the action; a good bit it taken up by Thomas’s exploration of his new world. Thos watchers who read the book will notice some deviations from the original story. In the movie, there’s no electricity in the glade, while in the books the group already have water and electricity. Considering electrical operations keep them in place, it would be hard to not have discovered it.

I also had a slight issue with Thomas ending up being a stereotypical Marty Stu. Thomas doesn’t have any apparent flaws and his random appearance kick-starting the story makes the rest of the characters look like chumps. They’ve been running all through the maze for years, and now somebody suddenly appears and takes over command, making the rest look foolish.

Despite these faults, it’s a film worth watching that deserves credit for steering away from too many cliches. We’re sure to see Wes Ball directing more movies after this one.

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