The Maze Runner Movie Review

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By Victoria Righthand (@nosilvernogold)

Take the arena from the Hunger Games series, mix it with a bunch of boys Lord of the Flies-style, throw in a bit of Survivor, and you might have an idea of what makes up The Maze Runner. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of The Maze Runner, it’s the latest in a recent trend of movie adaptations of futuristic young adult novels and is worthy of its turn in the spotlight.

The Maze Runner, directed by Wes Ball, is quite the baby brother of said futuristic teen movies. Put in the same category as The Hunger Games and Divergent, which are centered on a female protagonist, The Maze Runner instead follows a young man on his journey to discover who he is and why he is in this maze. You experience everything from the start of the movie with the lead character, Thomas, portrayed by the talented Dylan O’Brien. He is in a similar situation with the audience: neither of you has any idea what is going on or where you are. Unlike other futuristic or alien movies where you need to play catch up, you learn everything new as Thomas does, which gives you a sense of being immersed in the film.

I’ve never seen an actor physically throw himself into a role, and I mean pretty much literally, like O’Brien does. I am not surprised to learn of the injuries he sustained while filming because the way he moved felt so realistic. There are no throwing punches or fake falls; he constantly looks like he’s actually hitting hard and falling completely. This is also accentuated by Ball’s beautiful filmmaking. I have never been a fan of hand-held camera work and have seen very few films that can keep an intimacy of the subject through the camera without making the audience dizzy. This movie felt gritty and real and intimate as it kept close shots and long moments of thought without the typical shaky hand-held camera.

The leader of this rag-tag group of boys is Alby (Aml Ameen), who completely blew me away. After reading the book, I was mostly indifferent toward him, but in the movie, he really develops a bond with Thomas and the viewers by taking ownership of what goes on in The Glade and sees himself as their protector. The character of Newt, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, is a sweet and informative helper to Thomas, along with Chuck (Blake Cooper), who is the last newbie to The Glade and the youngest among them. Chuck becomes a sort of little brother for Thomas to watch over, protect, and give a little of his hope to. Unlike most Hollywood films, these boys felt real. They were actually average looking, not the beautiful people you see in most films that everyone just calls “normal.” There’s also an incredible array of diversity within the cast from shapes, sizes, colors, and nationalities. This is simply an observation as it was not done for propaganda or to fill in stereotypes. They’re just boys trying to survive and find a way through the maze to wherever home might be.

There’s a sense of urgency to leave the home they’ve built for themselves from one side of the group, while the other side just wants to stay safe inside The Glade. The opposing side is led by Gally (Will Poulter) who is tall, strong, and somewhat of a bully. He is not happy about anyone wanting to leave The Glade or anyone caught not following the rules. I felt like Gally was a bit more justified in his actions the way he was played in the film. Poulter, usually a funny man, took on the dramatic role brilliantly and added moments of fear and anger alongside some humor. He was a perfect adversary to Thomas and the two actors played off each other perfectly.

About halfway into the film, we get an unexpected arrival by way of the first female into The Glade. Teresa, played by British actress Kaya Scodelario, is a tough and beautiful but vulnerable addition as she, too, has no memories of her life before being dropped into The Glade. Something I loved about this character was that she was never a love interest or a damsel in distress, which most actresses are forced into playing. She’s brave and strong, but not just any stereotypical badass female character either. She’s real and honest. From the book to the movie, the idea of the telepathy and psychic connection was altered to fit visually without adding too much cheese to the film. I felt like I understood their flashes of memories and the connection Teresa and Thomas sensed in the film better than I did in the book.

The Maze Runner is fast-paced, real, and a great ride mixed with some great moments of humor. It simultaneously felt like it was five minutes and three hours as I was on the edge of my seat watching it all unfold. I felt myself cringing when someone was hurt, jumping and hiding my eyes when the insane and disgusting Grievers were on screen, and laughing a surprising amount. It’s a great end to all of the summer adventure movies and I have high hopes for the rest of the series. I will definitely be following these actors’ careers and can’t wait to see what they do next.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


    2 Comments

  1. BroganSeptember 19th, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I’m actually quite keen to see this movie. I just finished the book, and had the thought that the movie might just be the same as everything else that’s been coming out recently. This is a pretty positive review — hopefully I’ll enjoy it as much as you!

  2. lady_CroftSeptember 24th, 2014 at 4:27 am

    Great review of maybe the best movie this year (so far). I just don’t really agree with your statement that the boys are average looking, not beautiful. I mean, Dylan O’Brian is real eye-candy and watching him for two hours is pure joy 🙂

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