For those of you who have been loving the dystopic/post-apocalyptic movie adaptations of book series such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, let me introduce you to The Maze Runner.
Based on the book by James Dasher (The Jimmy Fincher Saga, The 13th Reality Series), The Maze Runner tells the story of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien). He awakes in a rusty elevator which brings him upward into a field called ‘The Glade’.
After he is deposited in the Glade, Thomas realises his memory has been completely wiped, leaving him with no recollection of his previous life. He joins a community of boys who are trapped in The Glade due to the intricate maze which surrounds it. Their memories have also been wiped. A special group called ‘Maze Runners’ are sent into the maze each day in order to find an escape route. However, there is more to the maze than just walls. No one survives a night in the maze.
The Maze Runner is guaranteed to rattle your bones. It is clear from the beginning that Thomas is too curious for his own good, unlike those who are happy to live in the Glade with the hope of escape. Thomas must find that escape. He is not satiated by the hope that other Gladers cling to.
Thomas’s curiosity comes with lethal consequences, disturbing the harmony the Glade had before his arrival. This creates a rift among the community, and Gally (Will Poulter) quickly begins to dislike him. However, some Gladers admire his bravery and relentlessness, primarily Chuck (Blake Cooper) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster).
The action soars as O’Brien (Teen Wolf) delivers a believable performance as Thomas. He brings both the intelligence and physicality needed for the role. The movie is fast paced, and it seems that the characters are only coming to grips with one problem when another one arises. The most pressing question: Why are we here?
The Maze Runner differs from The Hunger Games and Divergent, in that its protagonist and most of the cast are male, however, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) offers a welcome injection of oestrogen into the mix. As the only female Glader, her appearance is somewhat confusing to her male counterparts, giving the audience a few needed giggles to relieve tension.
While The Hunger Games and Divergent rely heavily on ‘against the odds’ style romances, the perilous maze leaves no time for love. However, Teresa’s appearance brings little effect to the overall story and one can’t help but think that her role is somewhat of a token one.
Another downside of The Maze Runner is that a lot of the dialogue is constrained by informing Thomas and the audience what is going on in The Glade. Very little character development takes place and we never really get a strong feel of any of the Gladers, rather there is a simple divide between the likeable and dislikeable characters. However, one should be mindful of the fact that we only see The Glade over a few days. The series is sure to expand our experience of each Glader.
If you enjoy a visceral cinematic experience, The Maze Runner won’t leave you hanging. It will drag you first hand into the ferocity of the maze without leaving you time to sneeze. However, if you’re looking for a deep thought-provoking movie with insightful and complex character development, a Young Adult Fiction adaptation shouldn’t be your first port of call.