The Maze Runner

"Good"

The Maze Runner Review


There's nothing particularly original or insightful to set this teen-dystopia thriller apart from the crowd, but strong characters will build some anticipation for the next instalment in the franchise. Unusually for the genre, the film also has a remarkably masculine tone, centring on boyish jostling for control while leaving the women in just two small-but-pivotal roles. On the other hand, it's to thinly plotted that it's pretty forgettable.

The story opens in a scene of disorientation, as teen Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) emerges into the Glade, unable to remember anything about himself or his past. He's the monthly arrival to a community of boys anchored by Alby (Aml Ameen) and the runners who dash into the maze beyond the four tall walls that close in their isolated world. But the maze is full of dangers, and paranoid leader Gally (Will Poulter) thinks Thomas is jeopardising the status quo with his curiosity, bravery and desire to get out. As divisions appear in the community, the game itself seems to be changing as monsters called grievers become more aggressive. Thomas finds allies in Gally's second-in-command Newt (Brodie-Sangster), the lead runner Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and cheery youngster Chuck (Blake Cooper). Then a girl (Kaya Scodelario) arrives carrying a note that says, "She is the last one EVER." And now everyone knows that nothing will be the same again.

Essentially this is Lord of the Flies with the nasty bits taken out, as these boys create a relatively peaceful society until Thomas' arrival signals an apocalypse within the post-apocalypse. Through it all, Thomas has dreams revealing snippets of information about what's really going on here and who's pulling the strings (the fabulous Patricia Clarkson). Meanwhile, he has to learn the mythology of the Glade, which is carefully explained in painfully obvious dialogue ("That's what we call 'the changing'").

Thankfully, O'Brien is a charismatic presence at the centre of the story, not only is it obvious why most of the boys want to follow him into the maze and possible freedom, but the audience is happy to follow him into future episodes. His chemistry with the characters around him is exactly what it's supposed to be, and nothing more, leaving hope for a bit of relationship-building in the sequel. Hopefully the sidelined women in the cast will get more to do as well.

Oddly this film never seems to have anything to say about present-day society. Nothing really resonates; even the final explanation about what's happening beyond the maze seems relatively simplistic, merely designed to set up future twists and turns. It doesn't even get very deep into the whole "teens discover who they are and what they're good at" theme that dominates most of these franchises. But aside from the incoherently shot and edited action sequences, the film is sharply designed and directed. And the rising-star cast bodes well for whatever's coming next.



The Maze Runner

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th September 2014

Box Office USA: $100.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $166.9M

Budget: $34M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Temple Hill Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Gotham Group

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Fresh: 89 Rotten: 53

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Wes Ball

Producer: Marty Bowen, , Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Lee Stollman, Lindsay Williams

Starring: as Thomas, as Alby, as Minho, Blake Cooper as Chuck, as Newt, as Gally, as Fry Pan, as Teresa, as Ben, Joe Adler as Zart, Alexander Flores as Winston, as Jeff, Randall D. Cunningham as Clint, as Ava Paige, Don McManus as Masked Man

Also starring: ,

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