Monday 18 May 2015

Review: The Maze Runner (2014)
I have to confess, I haven't read The Maze Runner (James Dashner's 2009 post-apocalyptic YA novel). It's been on my to-read list for a while, as I love the current trend in YA dystopias and am trying to work my way through all of them. But in this case, the film studios were ahead of me, and the film adaptation came out before I got chance to read the book!

I watched Wes Ball's film version of The Maze Runner at the weekend, and so this is a film review rather than a book review - and I promise it will be completely spoiler-free! I'd love to know how the film matches up to the book, so please leave comments!

The film begins with the protagonist Thomas waking up in a strange service lift with no memory of how he got there - or even who he is. He finds himself in the Glade, a makeshift village inhabited by other boys who have arrived in the same way. The Glade is surrounded by huge walls, and Thomas soon learns that what's on the other side of these walls is pretty terrifying...

The boys have organised themselves into a kind of society - and it's all a bit more peaceful and co-operative than Lord of the Flies! Each boy is assigned a different task and they work together to survive. The role that most interests Thomas is that of Runner (obviously!) - these are the boys who run out beyond the walls of the Glade to explore the imposing and dangerous maze that lies on the other side. The Runners are attempting to map the maze and hopefully find a way out. Thomas decides to join them, enter the maze, and discover the truth behind the Glade.

I enjoyed The Maze Runner and there were a lot of things I really liked about the film. The maze itself was fantastic. Even though there are dangerous creatures within it, it is the structure itself that seems to pose the biggest threat to the boys. The sequences where the Runners (or other boys) have to navigate the labyrinth and its various challenges were suspenseful and exciting, and I have to admit I held my breath at some points.

The acting was also good - though I know that some reviewers have disagreed with me on this one. Dylan O'Brien was great as Thomas, and I found him believable. Surprisingly, there were quite a few UK actors in the Glade. Kaya Scodelario (Effy from Skins) plays Teresa - the only girl to be sent to the Glade, and an important part of Thomas's struggle to remember his past. Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays Newt, and Will Poulter plays Gally (the closest the film really has to a human antagonist). For me, the strongest bit of the film was the interaction between the characters and the way they tried to come to terms with their situation and environment.

Unfortunately, I do have a few negatives though. The timescale of events in the film seemed a little strange. Although the boys have been at the Glade for three years, the events of the film take place over just a few days. I found it really hard to believe that there was only three days between Thomas's arrival and them figuring out the secret of the maze, especially since the other Runners had been going out day after day before he even got there. I know we like our film protagonists to be 'special' in some way, but this was pushing it! It would have been more believable if Thomas had been there for weeks, not days, before he started trying to figure out the maze.

The ending also left me a little flat. I know that this is the start of a series - and the ending (no spoilers!) certainly sets things up for the next instalment. But it felt like the ending was rather rushed, cramming in way more information than I was able to take in. And not all of it made sense, either, so I was left with quite a few questions. I assume that things will start to become a bit clearer with the second film though!

Or I wonder if the explanation is handled differently in the book? Maybe things will become clearer when I read the original novel!

Despite the rushed ending and odd timescale, I'd still recommend The Maze Runner. It's good fun, and has some edge-of-the-seat moments. If you're looking for some entertainment on Saturday night with your popcorn, it's definitely one to watch.

1 comment:

  1. The second film, Labyrinth Runner: The Ruin Tests, saw most of the throw from the first film reprise their positions. Dylan O'Brien came back as Johnson, as did Ki Hong Lee as Minho, Kaya Scodelario as Teresa, Johnson Brodie-Sangster as Newt and Dexter Darden as Frypan. The video has obtained heated film opinions from experts, but has also obtained a reasonable proportion of critique as well. crossword puzzle


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