A Maze Worth Running?

The Maze Runner joins the ever-growing list of movies adapted from novels.  This trend is here and it’s here to stay.  Fortunately for us, I think Hollywood is doing these pieces a good amount of justice.  The maze runner definitely has a target audience.  It’s next in line for the teen post apocalypse/dystopian future.  These are all the rage and you can’t blame any studio trying to cash in on while the going is hot.
The Maze Runner follows the story of young man named Thomas.  For reasons unbeknownst he wakes up in the surrounded by a group of teenage boys, not able to remember how he got there.  They inform him that he is now in the Maze, a complex labyrinth that changes nightly.  The maze is only open to them during the day and the runners traverse it daily looking for a way out.  Thomas is more curious than most and he desperately wants to figure out the mystery of who he is , why he is there, and what purpose the maze ultimately serves.

Simply being trapped in the maze is the least of the concerns for the group.  While escaping presents its own challenges, so does maintaining a society amongst each other.  The oldest boy in the group is named Alby, he was the very first boy to awaken in the maze.  He does his best to craft rules they can all live by, co-existence.  He has very simple rules, everyone does their part for the village, no extreme altercations with other boys and unless you’re a runner, do not go into the maze.  The maze is extremely dangerous, filled with many types of obstacles and creatures.  The runners are allowed in the maze and are categorized as the smartest and strongest of the group.  This is very essential because the doors to the maze only open during the day.  If a runner fails to make it back in time before the doors close, they will be stuck for the night.  During the night, the maze gets occupied by a creature called a Griever.  Nobody has seen a Griever but one fact is clear “Nobody survives a night in the maze”.
Thomas struggles to get adjusted to his new life.  He is very curious about the maze and the purpose of it all.  Eventually he’ll get his crack in the maze, albeit under nefarious circumstances.  I won’t give it away, but his actions bear some fruit.  Fruit in the shape of new information about the maze.  Hope is a double-edged sword, not everyone is happy about Thomas’s lack of respect for the rules and fear the consequences they could have on their society.  Things escalate when a girl is delivered to the camp.  While she suffers from the same memory loss as the rest, she seems to at least recognize and know who Thomas is.  She also has a note in here hand saying that she is the last person they will receive.  This causes some panic because fresh supplies were delivered with every new person.  It all leads to a thrilling final act that sees the occupants trying to escape the maze before it ultimately kills them all.
This is definitely a story we have seen before and yet it tells the story in a way that’s very refreshing.  While the target audience is pretty clear it doesn’t take some of the pitfalls.  For one, this is not a romance story.  Most see this movie and immediately think… twilight, divergent, etc.  While those films are the current trend, The Maze Runner takes its cues from more classic sources like Lord of the flies.  It’s very gritty and much more emphasis is put on the structure of society and the maze than any relationship.  That’s not to say relationships aren’t important, it just doesn’t get teenage gooey with it all.  They are trapped in a giant maze, have been for years.  They are concerned with coexisting and surviving, they’ll worry about what each other said on Facebook another day.
Visually, director Wes Ball does a fine job.  The world is very well realized.  He isn’t tempted by the Maze, he doesn’t over load us with it.  We’ll get plenty of time in the maze and learn all sorts of things about it, but he doesn’t feel the need to shove it down our throats.  He lets it come naturally, the maze is a mystery to all new comers , including us.  This movies are often obsessed with what I’m calling the gritty color palette: the blacks, grays, browns, etc.  Make no mistake, we get plenty of that tone from the maze itself, but it is delightfully countered by the luscious greens of the Glades. The Grievers are visually as well.  I wont spoil exactly what they are, but they give off the sense of scale and freight that seems very appropriate.
However, not everything is rosy.  The ending… oh gosh that ending.  I won’t spoil it, but I’ll say a few things.  First, this is a film adaptation of a book trilogy.  So I expected a cliff hanger and it sure does deliver.  You can’t knock it too hard for that because it’s a trilogy, its obvious the story means to continue.  So I can see how a lot of people are going to be left frustrated with this ending.  As cliff hangers go, it isn’t done very elegantly either.  It’s not just straight to black , so it’s not the worst.  It’s just hard to walk away from something just when you feel answers will be provided.  The film takes liberties with the source material. For the most part it was done in very good taste.  A film just doesn’t have the space to fit in the necessary exposition that the book offers.  However, it does fall a little flat on its face because the characters just end up making too many guesses.  While the escape from the maze was a good sequence.  When it’s over you can’t help but wonder just how lucky they got.  It was almost magical how all the puzzle pieces all come together.  Which is ultimately the only other problem with the movie.  I’ve read the books and the books go out on some limbs as well here and there.  However mostly things are found from a clue of some sorts with a very direct reasoning.  In the film, they kind of mindlessly charge ahead and hope to find a way.  My best guest is to add to the suspense of the final act, and for what its worth you don’t really think about it til it’s over.
Wait the.. the key.. but how did they know.. .....................ahh hell i give up
Wait the.. the key.. but how did they know.. ahh hell i give up
All in all, you have a good movie that will mostly be remembered by how it compares to its peers.  This movie is better focused than divergent, but not as action packed as The Hunger Games.  I think it will crave a nice space for itself in time.  Quite frankly the story is jus way more intriguing, why this maze?  It’s a very nice mystery and you want to learn more.
Final Rank : B

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv8ffeBcRC8]

Leave a Reply