I read a lot, but I didn’t get around to James Dashner’s Maze Runner before the movie came out, so I went in ‘blind’ so to speak, which is probably the best way to go with book adaptations. No one likes to sit there going ‘that’s not how it was in the book!’ All I knew about the movie came from the trailer: that it was like The Hunger Games, but all-boy.
A teenage boy with no memory starts asking questions that change everything for a community of boys living at the center of a giant maze.
While the The Hunger Games was all about survival, Maze Runner‘s plot is centered around figuring what the hell is going on. I enjoyed watching their action-packed quest for answers, but unfortunately when the answers finally came, they made no sense.
The movie begins when Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) arrives in the center of the maze in an elevator full of supplies. There are about thirty boys living there, led by Alby (Aml Ameen) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster). They’ve created a Swiss Family Robinson style camp for themselves called The Glade where they build and make food while their fastest members go into the maze each day to look for a way out.
Look! I think Dad’s coming back from work!
I wasn’t sure I’d like the all-boy aspect of Maze Runner – I find it irritating when groups of people spend all their time fighting each other instead of helping themselves, but their little society wasn’t as anarchical as I expected. Most of the boys want to go home and are willing to take chances to get there. Gally (Will Poulter) and a few other dissidents are more concerned with survival and therefore oppose risk-taking behaviors.
Sucks to your ass-mar, Piggy.
I got the sense that Gally’s only in the story to provide antagonism, but I’m not sure the story needs it. You see, the maze rearranges itself, which provides plenty of opportunities for the unwary to be crushed. Plus it’s full of brain/spider/monster/robots called Grievers that want to kill the boys, and if you get stung by one, you become a murderous lunatic… because reasons.
Because drama is more like it.
There are certain central truths about life in the Glade, and before the movie’s end Thomas breaks them all. No one remembers their name until they’ve been around a few days… except Thomas. No one survives a night in the maze… except Thomas. No one survives being stung by the Grievers’ crazy-juice… except if Thomas saves them. All due to the fact that Thomas is the only one who bothers to ask questions.
So did they put all the dumbest rats in the maze on purpose?
So Thomas becomes a runner and together with Minho (Ki Hong Lee) they try to investigate their way out of the maze. Back at camp, their strongest supporters are Newt and Chuck (Blake Cooper), who’s the little brother type. There are a bunch of other boys, but they’re largely interchangeable background dwellers. I couldn’t even tell you what any of their names were.
My new friend Tubey says we should call them all ‘Bob.’
Thomas’s investigations lead to a lot of upheaval and changes in the rules, culminating in the arrival of Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), for… reasons. There are a lot of things that happen ‘because reasons’ in Maze Runner, largely because they need an excuse for everyone to run around trying not to be crushed/eaten/stabbed/stuck with crazy-needles. And that part of it, the action part, is pretty great. I was totally into it.
Run you crazy bastards!
Eventually they reach the end of the maze and earn answers to questions like: Who built the maze? What is it for? Why are there a bunch of boys in it? Who is Thomas? Why is he special? The problem is that these answers come in a big rushed info dump in the last ten minutes of the movie and they make NO SENSE AT ALL. Seriously, it would have been better to leave the questions unanswered.
So if she weighs the same as a duck, she’s made of wood. And therefore… a witch!
Having said that, the action elements were strong enough and Thomas as a character was likeable enough that I would probably watch another movie or pick up the second book (I think it’s called The Scorch Trials) just to see if things make more sense later. I also don’t think that its nonsensical denouement is enough reason not to watch it. After all, we can always pretend it ended when they walked out of the maze. PROBLEM SOLVED.