“Lord of the Flies” and “Lost” had a baby and named it “The Maze Runner.”
As you might guess by its title, it has a lot of running and is kind of obsessed with mazes.
Based on James Dashner’s best-selling novel by the same name, we learn about the maze through the confused eyes of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), who arrives in a glade surrounded with stone walls without so much as a memory of his own name (until later, when he remembers).
He is the latest in a string of teenage boys who mysteriously arrive monthly, each with the same utter lack of memory or identity, we are told, and tries to fit in with the rest of the bunch, including Alby (Aml Ameen), Chuck (Blake Cooper), Gally (Will Poulter) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), by doing his part in the self-sustaining community. The number one rule in this Lord of the Flies-like settlement? Don’t go into the maze at night.
But the maze, stretching in every direction beyond the glade’s walls, calls to Thomas, and he longs to be a runner like Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and explore the maze in hopes of finding a way out. Unfortunately, his first chance at going into the maze comes at twilight when he darts between the rapidly closing stone walls to help Minho and an injured Alby. With a little cunning, a lot of running and even more luck, the three survive the night, and even manage to come back with a breakthrough clue on the maze.
The community has little time to consider this clue, though, before it gets another addition — a girl (Kaya Scodelario). The gender upset throws the glade into chaos, as does the disruption of other guarantees, like the stone walls staying open at night and the free reign of the maze’s monsters. More clues appear that suggest Thomas and the new girl, Theresa, might have more in stake in the maze than they thought.
This is kind of a tough one to review, because in some ways I felt like I had already seen it before — I read the book and I have a vivid imagination. First-time director Wes Ball and screenwriters Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin have taken few creative liberties with Dashner’s material. So, if you liked the book, there’s a good chance you’ll like the movie, and vice versa.
If you haven’t read the book, I wasn’t kidding earlier: This is a story about a community of teenage boys trying to sustain themselves while battling a mysterious and deadly enemy.
Because of this, much tends to get communicated with punches and the community is governed by strict tribal laws that can sometimes seem cruel. When a boy attacks Thomas early on, he is sentenced to a night in the maze, which is tantamount to being sent to the gallows. It seems there’s an inordinate amount of tackling in this movie, too.
What I’m getting at in a roundabout way is there’s not a lot of blood, but it is a bit violent, though the violence is in context and not gratuitous.
The plot pacing moves steadily enough, but some elements — character introductions, flashbacks, that sort of thing — make more sense when you look at the book’s series as a whole. The last moments of the movie concretely set up a sequel, which, incidentally, has already been greenlit.
Unfortunately, this lack of resolution can be frustrating, even though we should be used to series that leave us hanging. As one girl leaving the theater said, “Ugh, why do there always have to be more books?”
Good question, random girl. But if you don’t mind reading, or movie spoilers, all four of them in the Maze Runner series are already out.