The Maze Runner
Back in grade school, I used to construct mazes in my free time. Line by line the labyrinth would take shape on the paper. I delighted in creating paths that led to dead ends and misdirecting whoever might try to work their way through. Eventually I learned to create waypoints along the path of the maze. These waypoints would lend encouragement to those who tried to find their way and let them know they were on the right path. Watching someone try to solve the maze was always the reward for the effort expended in creating the maze in the first place. It was with these memories in mind that I went to see “The Maze Runner.”
I have not read “The Maze Runner” series, so I came to this movie without any local knowledge or expectations. That said, I left the theater disappointed. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the experience, I simply left unfulfilled. While the film was well made and entirely engaging, there was just something missing in the plot. I had the uncomfortable feeling that I was watching a modern version of “Lord of the Flies.” At the end of both the book and the film, there was no reward other than survival for the abuse the characters had to endure up to that point. Unlike the book, the film was clearly the beginning of a longer story. Perhaps the next installment, “The Maze Runner Chapter II: The Scorch Trials,” will answer some of the lingering questions and give us an idea where this story is going.
I certainly was not disappointed in the film's effects – They were stunning! The modest budget of $34 million was well utilized by Director Wes Ball. The cinematography was fantastic and the sets were top notch. The maze was every bit as magnificent as I could have hoped. It was easy to get lost in the massive, moving walls and I could readily imagine I was in the maze along with the characters. The glade was a fantastic counterpoint to the stark, concrete maze. The trees and greenery presented a wonderful juxtaposition as a safe haven for the characters.
I left the theater feeling as if I had only reached a waypoint in the story.
The disconcerting sounds of the maze moving at night were eerily effective. I completely sympathized with Thomas not being able to sleep. Those noises would have kept me up at night too. All in all, Wes Bell did a wonderful job of bringing me into the world of the maze runners.
As I would expect for a film of this caliber, the acting was top notch. Dylan O’Brien was completely engaging with his portrayal of Thomas. He was strong, intelligent, curious and vulnerable all at the same time. It was easy to root for Thomas as the story unfolded. For me, Ki Hong Lee stole the thunder from the rest of the supporting cast as Minho, the main runner. His guidance through the maze and the grudging friendship that formed between Minho and Thomas was one of the better feel-good parts of the film. Theresa, played by Kaya Scodelario, wasn’t as much of a pivotal figure as I would have thought from the trailers. I have a feeling there will be more of her character revealed in upcoming sequels. Will Poulter plays Gally the film’s antagonist. Gally was as easy to dislike as Thomas was to like. This proved, once again, that a strong antagonist is pivotal to creating a strong hero. The rest of the supporting cast of the glade gave the story nice depth even if some of the characters themselves were a little transparent.
The end-justifies-the-means plot line of the government entity manipulating the characters for some greater good felt contrived. We have seen this same theme played out in countless other movies, though both “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” come immediately to mind. Hopefully this heavy handed portrayal of the ultimate villainous organization will be lessened in sequels. However, I don’t hold much hope of this if the two examples cited above are any indication of the direction Hollywood is taking with this genre.
I left the theater feeling as if I had only reached a waypoint in the story. Maybe that was how the director wanted it. But, even if the story itself was clearly at a good stopping point, “The Maze Runner” still felt unfinished. I would have liked more of an up-beat ending than what we were left with. I guess we will just have to continue to try and find our way through the maze with the rest of the characters and hope there is a reward waiting at the end.
About Brian Hill
Brian Hill is a home theater enthusiast who has an extensive background in sales. His interests include music & movies, F1 & NASCAR auto racing, hot rods (he has a '56 Nomad) and hockey — Go Sharks!
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