Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Release Date: 18th September 2014, 20th Century Fox
The Maze Runner is the newest YA adaptation to hit the silver screens. Much like its genre counterparts, The Maze Runner is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society.
The movie opens with the waking gasp of its protagonist Thomas, played by Dylan O’Brien, in a darkened shaft as he is being rapidly delivered to his new home at the centre of a massive maze.
As Thomas struggles to remember anything about his previous life, he is taken in by the Maze’s youthful community; a group of young teenage boys. We soon learn that each month, a young man is chosen and sent to the ‘The Glades’, as its citizens have named it, for reasons unknown.
Under the guidance and instruction of the first inhabitant, Alby (Aml Ameen), the community have quickly established a functioning society with a series of rules, rituals and roles; shelter, food, construction, and of course, the runners whose job is to track the maze during daylight hours. Thomas begins to question why they were sent here, who sent them there and ultimately, what is beyond the maze.
The premise of the film, based on the popular young-adult series by James Dashner, is both smart and intriguing but the direction by relative newcomer Wes Ball is in some areas crude and cringe worthy, and in the case of its almost laughable conclusion; slightly scrambled.
The first half of the movie is slow and drawn out and the long-anticipated arrival of the only girl to be chosen for The Glades is disappointing. Theresa (Kaya Scodelario) feels underused and undervalued as a character. Her sudden appearance, while it briefly disrupts the workings of the glade, is quickly pushed aside and she sadly becomes nothing more than a token who barely participates in the action.
Dylan O’Brien’s portrayal as Thomas is astonishingly good and a highpoint of the film. O’Brien plays Thomas with a painful earnestness and candour, along with shades of guilt and penitence as the story moves along.
The rest of the supporting cast are also admirable and packed with great performances. Will Poulter is fantastic as Gally, the groups most aggressive inhabitant while Thomas Brodie-Sangster is the most amiable as Newt, providing a certain degree of authority and wisdom further along.
There’s plenty of CGI and visual effects in this film but it’s not as overpowering or distracting as other films in the genre. Wes Ball has a background in visual effects and he handles this aspect of the film commendably. The maze itself is an impressive CGI construction, with its cement walls looking eerily menacing. The creatures within its walls however, don’t have the same effect; Grievers, as their known, look more like the spiders seen in the Harry Potter franchise with the exception that they’re half-robotic. Not very frightening or ominous.
Sure, a lot of the underlying story featured in the novel was stripped away from the film, but over all it is a fun and intense ride with excellent performances from such a young cast.
Though the ending is riddled with clichés and is somewhat absurd, it is still easy to look forward to the sequel which 20th Century Fox has officially announced.
The Scorch Trials, the second in the franchise, will hit US theatres on September 18th 2015.