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The Maze Runner Review

The Maze Runner Review

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Genre: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Directed by: Wes Ball

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster

The YA market has had a particular fixation on dystopian sci-fi futures populated by young teens and, with the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent, there seems to be no sign of it slowing down. Based on the first in James Dashner’s best-selling book trilogy, The Maze Runner is an entertaining and thoroughly well made film, that will entertain fans of this sort of thing, even if it doesn’t rewrite the rule book.

The film opens in a flurry of noise and confusion as our young hero, Thomas (Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien), awakens in the mysterious Glade; a small community of amnesiac afflicted boys, who find themselves trapped in a small enclave, surrounded on all sides by a huge labyrinth and the terrifying, biomechanical monstrosities known as “Grievers” who patrol it.

Strange things start happening following Thomas’s arrival, and after a young girl, Teresa (Kaya Scoledario), arrives bearing a note stating that she is the “last one ever”, Thomas and a few others decide it’s about time that they brave the deadly maze and make a break for freedom.

First time feature director Wes Ball does a good job in dealing with all the necessary exposition and back story, but once that’s out of the way, the real fun can begin, and the film shoots off at a rollicking pace, never letting up for a moment. However, the fast pace and fluid action pieces never once get in the way of the mystery and vice versa; the film reveals enough information to keep you invested, but leaving enough mystery to keep you intrigued. The Grievers themselves are well-designed creations, while the maze itself is a beautifully constructed mix of concrete towers and Inception style physics.
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Comparisons to Lord of the Flies and Lost are inevitable but unfounded; for all its gloss and flourish, The Maze Runner lacks the moral and base human complexity of something like Flies, less concerned with the moral regression of society and political subtext and more concerned with dealing with thrills, spills, and giant biomechanical spiders, which it more than succeeds in delivering.

The young cast do an ample job, with Will Poulter on fine form as the young hothead, Gally, and Dylan O’Brien making for an admirable hero. Scoledario meanwhile is wasted as the lone female, Teresa, seemingly only there to inject some much needed estrogen into this testosterone filled landscape. Hopefully her character is expanded upon in the sequel.

Despite the entertaining visuals, the characters lack the emotional depth of their Hunger Games counterparts. The film tries its best, but the action moves at such a quick pace, that it barely allows its characters to breathe. In addition, the film is so deadpan and so serious that a little levity wouldn’t have gone amiss.

While it never reaches the heights of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner is certainly better than most other entries into the YA canon. Fast, exciting and mysterious, the film doesn’t rewrite the rulebook on YA dystopian fiction, but it should be enough to please fans.

★★★

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