Big The Maze Runner Review
The Maze Runner is a surprisingly effective film that grabs your attention from the opening frame. While the movie is a young-adult adaptation, drawn from James Dashner's book, it doesn't pander to the fanbase like most films of the genre. The stakes feel real, as do the characters and their decisions in this bizarre world that they are dropped...or lifted into.
The setup of the film is refreshingly simple. Every month an elevator arrives with supplies and a new teenage boy, with no memory of the past. He is lifted into an open area known as The Glade. There is no escape from The Glade, except through a deadly maze which surrounds the encampment.
Over the years a relatively complex society was created under the leadership of Alby, played by Aml Ameen. The clan refer to themselves as Gladers and have created different roles to maintain the prosperity of their village. There are gardeners, builders, and runners. Runners are selected by their tribal council. They are tasked with having to run at full speed, from sun up to sundown through the maze. Their daily mission is to explore and map out the labyrinth, so eventually they can find the way out. However there are two huge complications. The maze constantly changes. And when the gates close at night, mechanical creatures known as Grievers patrol the grounds. No one has ever been closed in the maze and made it to the next morning to see the gates reopen.
The jarring opening of the film is handled well. As the viewer is forced into the same perspective as the story's lead, Thomas, played by Teen Wolf's Dylan O'Brien. While watching this film, it is impossible to not think of Lord of the Flies, which strongly influence the inner-workings of the movie. This group of teenagers have formed their own form of self-government, hierarchy and above all, a strict code and set of rules.
The maze itself is a metaphor for the real world and the ever changing set of challenges that await you. However, Thomas has a different outlook since he is the newest member of the group. He sees the flawed logic in going along with the pack. O'Brien's performance is respectable, but not particularly memorable. Yet he is engaging enough to carry the film, especially because of the strong supporting players. He is brash and impulsive, but is the embodiment of thinking-outside-the-box and quickly gains loyalty from certain members of the clan. However, various events involving Thomas and Alby, lead to instability that threatens the fabric of the order that had been created.
Another strength of the film is the cast that was assembled. Almost all the young actors hold their own, bringing their own flavor and depth to what are written as pretty one-dimensional characters. A standout of the bunch is Ameen's Alby. Alby has the dubious distinction of being the first person to be lifted into The Glade. He is firmly established as the pragmatic leader of the clan. He rules with a level head, but there is a clear undertone that he has earned his respect with both smarts and physicality.
This is the type of film that you can imagine going to see with buddies in high school. Then while walking out of the theater each friend can see himself in a different character. It works. Other notable performances include, Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones) who brings a weighty intelligence to his role of Newt, the head of gardening and a high ranking officer in the tribe's chain of command. Will Poulter (Son of Rambow, Meet the Miller's) is the tribe's muscle and enforcer. He tests new Gladers in a tribal battle, which determines their rank and designation in their society. Poulter is convincing as the antagonist, constantly being an obstacle for Thomas' bid for support among the clan.
This is Wes Ball's first major feature film and he shows that he is a capable action director. It is hard enough directing a entire cast of young actors, but he also manages to keep a firm grasp on the film's tone and pacing. The action scenes are energetic as well. Despite the film being about people being lost in a maze, Ball keeps the geography of the action clear, so it's easy to tell what is happening.
The film works because it sets a firm set of rules for Thomas, that are easy for the viewer to follow. However the most unforgivable part of the movie is that it leaves so many open-ended questions. Yes, we are living in the era of the movie franchise. But people still go to the movies...to see a complete story. Even if that story is part of an even larger scheme. However not getting closure on a lot of questions leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when the credits roll. While this may be true to the book's structure, the movie might have done better to hint at the future questions, instead of implicitly asking them. The film is good enough to warrant a second part, without feeling like you are being strung into it.
Overall the film is enjoyable and possibly a little more fun than you would be led to believe. This is a solid B-movie for the fall season. If you find yourself at the ticket booth with no way out, take a breezy run with The Maze Runner.
What did you think of The Maze Runner? Let us know down below!
Source: Point of Geeks