Thomas wakes up with no memories in a community of boys, soon learning they are trapped in a mysterious maze that is there one chance at escape if they can solve it.
Dylan O'Brien - Thomas
Kaya Scodelario - Teresa
Aml Ameen - Alby
Will Poulter - Gally
Thomas Brodie-Sangster - Newt
Ki Hong Lee - Minho
Recently there has been an influx of intelligent young adult novels that address important societal issues, especially in apocalyptic environments. These stories are now dominating our cinema screens as they are constantly adapted into films, with The Maze Runner the latest novel to be adapted. But with so many stories out there it can be hard to make yourself heard and different. When watching the trailer for [The Maze Runner](movie:575895) the mind automatically thinks back to the popular Hunger Games series, a group of young people fighting for survival against a series of challenges. However, it certainly marks itself out as different taking twists and turns you would never expect. There are clearly a lot of influences here such as the Hunger Games, but even the likes of Lord of the Flies. Yet, it is still unique and completely enthralling, emotional, intelligent and just superb entertainment.
The less you know about the film before watching it the better. Thankfully the trailer does not tell you much, and the concept is very mysterious itself. All we know is as much as the boys know, allowing us to completely engage with their characters as we have to trust them for our information. As soon as the film starts we are thrown into the mix of things without any context or set-up. Opening in the elevator along with Thomas we are taken on a shaky ride up to the Glade with no knowledge about anything only to be thrown into quite a scary situation. This film overall is actually quite frankly terrifying and not for children. Once we are introduced to the Glade we are introduced to the maze which circles around the glade and changes every night. Each day runners go inside to try and find an exit mapping it out, but they have to make sure they get out in time or the Grievers will get to them. And trust me, Grievers are creatures they do not want to meet and will haunt your dreams for weeks after. The whole concept is quite terrifying, and becomes more and more so as information is revealed and the story twists in ways you do not expect.
In fact one of the best things about the film is the storyline. We learn things at the same time the boys learn, meaning that there are always new surprises in store and we can never get behind or ahead of the game. When reading the concept it can seem a bit lame; boys trapped in an environment surrounded by a maze which they have to map to get out? However, it gradually becomes so much more than that, with intelligent developments that leaves you on an immense cliff-hanger at the end wondering where the next film will take us (like all popular young adult novels this is of course a trilogy). The fact that it remains faithful to the novel probably helps with this as the book is incredibly well-written. With a whole mixture of elements it is really quite immersive and enjoyable for all. One scene will be straight out of a horror film, the next influenced by Lord of the Flies as the boys build huts and try to establish dominance over each other, the next full-on action as we catch up with the runners and the next detective like as the characters try to work out what is going on. Of course some of it is cliche and stereotypical, especially when Scodelario's female character is introduced to the boys, but the elements are balanced nicely making it very entertaining.
Speaking of Scodelario the performances in this film are quite remarkable. As the only female character Scodelario really has to work hard to establish herself whilst being surrounded by males, much like her character. But this is no problem for the strong actress who helps develop a strand of emotion the film much needed and an extra touch of mystery. Poulter is as wonderful as ever as the brute bully Gally, who although nasty is someone the audience can connect with as he is driven by fear and emotion, if we were stuck there some of us would act like him too. Brodie-Sangster is brilliant as Newt with a mixture of sweetness and strength that convinces us that he can be a linkable leader. The real revelation though is Dylan O'Brien as the lead role Thomas, an actor who has little experience being mainly known from the television series Teen Wolf. Calm, cool-headed, handsome, vulnerable and strong, he completely takes on the role of Thomas with an exceptional performance that proves he can be a leading actor. It will be good to see more from O'Brien in the future.
Director Wes Ball has done an excellent job with The Maze Runner. Using his past experiences in directing, writing, editing and special effects, he has combined all his talents to ensure nothing goes amiss. Visually stunning with impressive effects that look real with a cracking soundtrack that really pumps up the tension in a story that already has you completely gripped at the start, this is a film to see on the big screen. Although it clearly has its inspirations and can be cliché at points, the storyline is so well-developed and intelligent we don't mind these facts. The addition of a brilliant cast who make their characters engaging also helps. All in all The Maze Runner is an entertaining film that makes itself stand out amongst all the other young adult films and has something that everyone can enjoy. Now... when is part two arriving to our screens?