Hi there and greetings from beautiful Lake Texoma. Having recently completed both 3 months of covering Big Brother for the Big Brother Blog and my series of Back to School reviews for this site, I am currently on a much-needed vacation with my wonderful boyfriend. However, you all know that I would never let a little thing like being on vacation keep me from watching and then reviewing whatever is currently playing down at the closest available theater.
For instance, last night, we saw The Maze Runner at the Cinemark 14 in Denton, Texas. The Cinemark is a really nice theater. The seats are comfortable. The people working there were nice and polite. The movie sounded great. Even the audience was surprisingly polite. Only a few people came in late and, for the most part, everyone refrained from talking during the film. Good for them and good for you, Cinemark 14!
As for the movie itself…
The Maze Runner tells the story of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), a teenager who wakes up one day in a grassy clearing that is encircled by gigantic, gray walls. Thomas finds himself surrounded by several other teenage boys. Unable to remember anything about his past (but haunted by chaotic dreams that suggest that he is the part of some sort of lab experiment), Thomas initially reacts by trying to run. However, he is quickly tackled and introduced to his new home.
The grassy area is known as the Glade and the boys who live there are known as Gladers. Their leader is Alby (Aml Ameen) and, as he quickly explains to Thomas, he has created a tediously collectivist society where everyone has his assigned place and his assigned duty. (And yes, that is the correct pronoun. There are no girls among the Gladers.) Alby explains that, behind the walls, there lies a maze that is patrolled by terrifying creatures known as Grievers. The most athletic and intelligent of the Gladers are allowed to become Runners. Everyday, the Runners run through the maze and memorize every twist and turn.
Thomas, needless to say, wants to be a runner. And it’s good that he does because otherwise, the film would be kind of boring.
Anyway, along the way to becoming a runner, Thomas has more visions of an autocratic woman (Patricia Clarkson) and he also manages to make an enemy out of Gally (Will Poulter), a Glader who never wants to leave Glade. Eventually, a girl named Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) shows up, along with a note saying that she’s the last one and no one else will be showing up in the Glade.
Now, at this point, you may be tempted to ask, “What’s going on?”
Well, you’ll have to wait a few years to find out because The Maze Runner is just part one of a trilogy. Much like The Hobbit, Divergent, and The Hunger Games, it answers just enough questions to keep the audience satisfied while still ending with a cliffhanger. So, if you do see The Maze Runner, be sure to pay attention because you don’t want to forget everything that happened before the sequel comes out sometime next year.
There’s a lot of good things that can be said about The Maze Runner. For the most part, the actors did a good job. The grievers were scary. The maze looked impressive, though it’s hard not to feel that the film did not take full narrative advantage of it.
However, to be honest, I have seen so many recent adaptations of dystopian YA books that, with the exception of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, they’re all starting to blend together. The Maze Runner was well made but there really wasn’t anything about it that distinguished it from the pack. Without the presence of a star like Jennifer Lawrence or the satirical subtext that distinguished The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner ultimately just felt like your typical franchise starter, not so much a story but instead just an extended prologue.
Again, it’s not necessarily a bad film. It’s based on a book and, undoubtedly, a lot of details did not make it from the page to the screen but there’s still enough there that even people who haven’t read the book will probably be able to follow the story. Me, I’m a Texas girl and, therefore, it’s a part of my heritage to appreciate any film that features an individual taking on an elitist dystopia. But, in the end, the film is never quite as memorable as you want it to be.
Perhaps we’ve all just been spoiled by The Hunger Games…