Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter
Release Date: September 19, 2014
The Maze Runner is the first film of the post-apocalyptic science fiction book series written by James Dashner to grace the big screen. It seems ever since the world-wide success of the Harry Potter movies Hollywood has been searching for more gold mines. Success is hard to discover when finding a new novel to turn into a film, not everything has been as fortunate as Twilight and The Hunger Games. But The Maze Runner is following another Hollywood trend that is currently attracting movie goers - dystopian futures. Hollywood does not need to worry about their next franchise starter quite yet, as they have struck gold with their latest attempt.
Based on the bestselling novel by James Dashner, this adventure thriller for young adults follows a young boy named Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) who finds himself trapped within a giant, deadly maze with a group of other kids. While he has no memories of his life prior to being in the maze, he is plagued by nightmares about a shadowy organization known only as W.C.K.D., and hopes that these fragments of dreams will help him discover the secrets of his past and a way to escape.
When you combine Lord of the Flies with Lost, the product will be very similar to this film. A group of young individuals are put in a vicious environment forcing them to fight for their survival, meanwhile having the unfortunate luck of not even knowing why or how they got themselves in this situation to begin with all while not knowing their full identity. That is exactly what The Maze Runner is all about. The film kicks off with Thomas being locked in a cage that is sent to what the others call the Glades. Thomas initially does not remember his name but as Alby (Aml Ameen), the leader of the Glades, informs Thomas, "You'll get your name back in a couple days. That's the only thing they let you keep." Alby also shows Thomas around and gives him the 411 - they have been trapped in the Glades for three years now and the only way out is through the maze that surrounds them, but the maze closes every night to protect them from the creatures that live in the maze.
Upcoming director Wes Ball did a beautiful job in creating this universe. As soon as Thomas arrives in the Glades, you sense the fear and confusion. When more characters are introduced we are given more details of life at the Glades which only adds more to the mystery than solves it, just like Lost. The only thing a new discovery accomplished was creating more mystery.
Ball changes tones to much success throughout the film as well, giving us some light moments for our characters to get to know each other and create bonds but the film gets dark as well as not everyone survives a night. This lets the pace of the film flow very easily as they are forced into action by certain discoveries. You are kept on the edge of your seat throughout the film because there is always something intense happening from either a race, a fight, a new discovery, a plot twist or just pure adventure.
Ball shows off his art graphic background throughout the film as well. The movie was by far a visual masterpiece, especially the grievers, the half machine half spider like creatures. Ball created them as if the movie had a lavish budget. Unfortunately for both Ball and viewers, he didn't, but they still were very visually appealing which made their scenes that much intense as you felt their danger. It only makes you wonder how they would have came out looking if Ball had a bigger budget.
As mentioned prior, The Maze Runner is following current trends of successful movies and franchises. Oddly enough, they are two trends that the film doesn't follow which can potentially hurt its success. First one deals with the presence of Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the last person ever and only female to be brought up to the Glades. Young audiences enjoy seeing a love connection in a film, whether or not it's a successful one, as long as they sense a romantic underlined theme at one point of the film. Audiences will be disappointed as there isn't one but future books in the series might suggest one.
The second trend that the film doesn't really follow is having a strong connection with the protagonist. With Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen, fans grew a strong connection with that one particular character and might have branched towards other characters as well but never forgot about Potter or Everdeen. That is not the case with the film, you might find yourself building a connection with multiple characters instead of just one strong one.
Hopefully the lack of those two trends does not stop The Maze Runner from being successful as everything else done with the film was superb. From casting to pace to visuals, everything was done to the level that you'll be surprised that this is Ball's first time directing for the big screen. The way the film ended did leave a lot more questions than answers just like how every time a new discovery was made in the film. Instead of wrapping the first book up, it felt as if the ending was used more as an introduction to what viewers should expect in the next film. I personally never read any of the books from the series but I must admit I am hoping that Hollywood does continue making the rest of the series into films. Take out your wallets and see this film in theaters not because it's one of the better films released in a while but you are going to enjoy this film and either impatiently wait for the next film or purchase the books.
Labels: 2014, Dylan O'Brien, Full Movie, Kaya Scodelario, Movie Review, The Maze Runner, Wes Ball, Will Poulter