Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Maze Runner

Title: The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball
Released: 2014
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Ami Ameen, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson, Blake Cooper

Plot: Awakening in an elevator with no idea of how he got there, Thomas (O’Brien) now finds himself in “The Glade” at the centre of a large maze along with a group of other teenage boys. Now they must unite to the not only escape the maze but also the cyborg monster known as “Grievers” who prey on anyone who ventures into the maze.

Review: While I might have initially ignored this film on its original release dismissing it as another Young Adult novel adaptation especially with “The Hunger Games” being such a success and yet there was still something which appealed about the concept. So having it play recently on one of the movie channels I thought I’d finally give it look.

The directorial debut of Wes Ball who’d originally approached 20th Century Fox with the intention of getting his short film “Ruin” made into a feature length production only to instead be offered the chance to direct this film seeing how it shared a similar tone to his short film.

Hitting the ground running this is a world which is quickly established for the audience with the Gladers having carved out an lfe for themselves in the centre of Maze over the three years which have passed since their appointed leader Alby arrived while appointing members known as runners to explore the maze and find their way out. Its somewhat refreshing that Thomas doesn’t straight away take over as the leader, even if he adapts to the situation he finds himself in surprisingly quickly especially when it comes to facing the Grievers.

The design work for throughout the film is fantastic from the high walls of the ever changing maze bringing back memories of “Labyrinth” through to the bio-mechanical design of the Grievers who look great and whose seemingly unstoppable nature only adds to their threat its really an immersive and believable world that the story takes place in.

Despite being an adaptation of the first book in James Dashner’s “Maze Runner” series here we have a film which is actually free of the usual hang up’s which plague the genre such as the dashing whip smart lead, the love intrest and goofy sidekick. Instead what we get is what could be seen as a regular sci-fi thriller were it not for the young cast who manage to put across convincing performances throughout, especially as the film frequently drifts into several darker moments especially as the structure of the group beings to fall apart and certain members begin to make their own power plays

The real question mark amongst the group here is Teresa (Scodelario) the first and only female to be sent to the Glade, which might have you thinking that she’s there to play the love interest for Thomas but she really isn’t and ultimately bring little to nothing to the story other than being eye candy for the film and perhaps to relive any potential homoerotic undertone that some might have garnered from the group being consisted solely of boys. Yes she might share a history with Thomas which is touched upon and seeing how we have another two volumes in the series to cover which might give her more to to, but at this point I constantly found myself questioning what role she was supposed to be playing.

The other issue here comes with the ending which decides to info dump the secrets of the Maze and reason the Gladers were placed there ultimatly coming as something of a let down especially having gone through the thrill of that final run through the maze. This is only added to by the introduction of the fantastic Patricia Clarkson as the mastermind behind the maze who leaves almost as quickly as she enters and while I can understand her late introduction due to wanting to maintain an air of mystery but she could really have benefited from having a little more room for her character to breathe, which looking at how the film ends I assume she might get in the next film.

An entertaining romp throughout it might not be the deepest of films, but certainly as far as one of adaptations of Teen fiction go this is miles ahead of the competition making me keen to see were the story goes next. 

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