“Who knows where this might lead us.”
Most people who wake up with absolutely no memory of anything wake up anywhere but an all-boys community. Yet, that is what happens to Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), in The Maze Runner. He is the latest boy to be dropped into this mysterious place called The Glade, a place where these boys have learned to make their own society and fill specific roles for the betterment of it.
Like Thomas, all have been dropped into this world in the exact same manner, but so many years have passed by and this place is accepted as home. The secret to escape could lie in the form of a monolithic maze, to which little is known as to what exist when in those walls. Societal “runners” are the only people to truly know, but none have survived to tell others about what is in there. If Thomas wants to get out, becoming a runner is a good place to start.
Praise goes to director Wes Ball for at least bringing some freshness to the young adult movie genre in The Maze Runner, taken of course from the novel with the same name. It is a movie where, taken as a whole, is probably better than even the most harshest of YA movie genre haters would have believed. Even with the problems, which manifest more as the runtime goes on.
Right from the jump, a short but attention-grabbing opening puts one right into the film’s world. Just like Thomas who is trying to piece together what exactly is going on, we too as the audience are doing the same. Everything is shrouded in mystery, with enough but not too much information given that does push along the story. The first 30 -45 minutes exist and deliver as a very hooking, Lord-of-the-Flies-ish setup.
It can be compared to The Hunger Games, sure, but without the battle royal aspect and an even darker (both literally and figuratively) tone. This extends itself to the action, or more like the running sequences. Though most are cloaked in darkness, they are shot well enough. If only what the characters go up against were cloaked in darkness for the whole film. They are the types of things that sound scarier when not shown in full, but look dumb when fully revealed.
Unfortunately, it is around the middle point of The Maze Runner where the mystery starts to become less intriguing, if only because a sizable chunk of it can be put together. That isn’t to say every detail in the mystery can be nailed, however. It is just that the general mystery as to why they are down in this situation can be nailed. Even with this mild predictability, the movie still carries intrigue, but the reveal found at the end damn near tears all of the positives of the initial start of the story down. It doesn’t help that everything is so serious, despite the movie not really bringing anything thematically to the table.
With yours truly’s thoughts on TMR coming much later than the actual release of the movie, I have heard of the ending being less than satisfactory, and it absolutely is. When the exposition begins, each line only serves to complicate matters, while setting up a sequel, and throwing in a farfetched character appearance that makes no sense whatsoever when only 10 minutes ago matters were bleak for the respective character. Perhaps the ending makes more sense in the book, but it doesn’t translate to the movie.
Thankfully, the bad ending does not mar the generally good acting turned in by the cast. Nothing is really found out about their characters to flesh them out, but their actual thespian work is better than what is often found in the genre. Dylan O’Brien initially looks like the general handsome guy that all of these films seem to have, but he gets chances to prove he isn’t just a handsome face as Thomas. His opposition is Will Poulter, who is the strongest performance-wise in the movie as “Gally,” representing a young man trying to keep order in the wake of the curiosity and change Thomas brings in.
Some of the others, while sort of interchangeable, are fine, with a kid by the name of Blake Cooper sticking out (for good) because he is so different aesthetically from the rest and has a real emotional core that other characters do not have. The only real weak link is Kaya Scodelario, who comes in midway and doesn’t add anything to the plot except being lifeless with a fading American (?) accent.
With a strong start and a surprisingly good cast, The Maze Runner is a more entertaining watch than most it shares similarities with. The aforementioned problems prevent it from being a very good film instead of one that is just good for its genre, but the fact that it isn’t Twilight or Vampire Academy is a plus.
Photo credits go to bloody-disgusting.com, hypable.com, and slashfilm.com.
Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson