Movie Review: The Maze Runner (2014)

Posted: July 25, 2015 in Action, Drama
Tags: ,

THE MAZE RUNNER

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in an elevator that drops him off in an open wooded area called The Glade. Thomas does not know where he is, how he got there, or even what his name is, at first.  Thomas gets a tour of The Glade from Alby, (Aml Ameen) one of the original inhabitants of The Glade.  The Glade is surrounded by a maze guarded by monsters called the Grievers.  Thomas meets some of the Gladers, some like Chuck (Blake Cooper) and Newt (Thomas Brodie Sangster) are friendly, others like Gally (Will Poulter ) are threatened by Thomas’ willingness to explore the maze and try to break through to the outside world.

On one of his excursions to the maze, Thomas meets fellow glader Ben. (Chris Sheffield) Ben is delusionally ranting because he has been “stung” by one of the Grievers, and in that state, he attacks Thomas.  Thomas fends Ben off, and eventually Ben is banished for attacking Thomas.  Alby enters the maze to try to retrace Ben’s steps, and after a few days, when Alby doesn’t show up at The Glade, Thomas ventures to the maze to find him.  Does Thomas find Alby?  Who is Theresa, (Kaya Scodelario) the newest arrival to the maze?  Why does she seem to know Thomas?

I like The Maze Runner. It’s better than The Hunger Games or Divergent, because it’s less violent, and more mysterious than either Divergent or The Hunger Games.  The questions, who are these kids and how did they get here; hang over this movie like the Sword of Damocles.  Sure it borrows from other literature, most obviously Lord of the Flies, the Glade reminds me of Shakespeare or Yeats, but overall the story was intriguing.  Some of the storylines don’t make much sense, and there is high turnover with the characters, which was unnecessary and mildly disconcerting, because I got attached to some of them, but the comradarie between characters was good, and that’s what held the story together.

The acting for the most part was very good.  Dylan O’Brien is a suitable hero type, he handles the action and the introspection required from the character well.  Aml Ameen is very good as the mentoring Alby, it’s too small a role for him, but he makes the best of it.  Blake Cooper plays the sidekick role with humor, and a sense of adventure.  Will Poulter is extremely good as Gally, he wants to maintain the status quo and as such becomes an antagonist.  It’s a complex role for a young actor, and he handles it well. Ki Hong Lee is also very good, as the initially hesitant character Minho.  The only performance that seemed lacking was Kaya Scodelario, her performance seemed wooden and uninteresting, which is sad, because she had a chance to really stand out as the only girl in a cast of boys.  Many of the actors are British, who do really convincing American accents, I couldn’t pick up any of the accents slipping, which is pretty incredible.

The direction was good, the opening scene in the elevator grabs the audience, and the action scenes in the maze with the Grievers are fast paced and exciting, the pacing is even good in the exposition scenes.  Relatively new director Wes Ball also gets great performances from a predominantly young and unknown cast.  I’m actually looking forward to the sequel.

The Maze Runner:  A-maze-ing.

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