Dystopian youth fantasies seem to be all the hype when it comes to novel adaptations. Consider the success of book (and subsequently) movie franchises like The Hunger Games, Divergent and Ender’s Game.
I believe these stories resonate with a disillusioned youth still stuck without the knowledge of how to leave the Matrix. But on we go to the actual film. The Maze Runner‘s opening is as cold as it gets, and it stays this way for most of the film.
Our protagonist, Thomas is the latest member of a “tribe” of boys stuck in the center of a giant maze. At night the maze walls shift and the structure changes entirely. Add to this a few spidery monsters, and you’ve got yourself a nightmare prison. The boys have no idea why they are there, what their captors have planned for them, or how long they’ll all be there for. In the meantime, they’ve actually gone about their merry way, constructing a fairly decent community and societal structure where everyone plays their part. They’ve got farmers, medical personnel, and an elite team that explores the maze during the day, before it changes at night and the creepy crawlers come out to play.
But all this changes when Thomas shows up; Thomas is different. Thomas doesn’t just fall into place and play his part. He questions everything; he explores his new surroundings; he takes chances and challenges the status quo. Not long after his arrival, Teresa shows up (the first and only girl to appear) and that’s when things really change, as their captors promise no more supplies and no additional members.
I was really impressed with Thomas as a character. Usually the lead character in any series is different from the rest, but they are often excruciatingly annoying in that they are either ushered into glory instantly, or deny their place in the bigger picture until the very last moment when it’s needed. Thomas is different because his curiosity makes him the natural leader, but he maintains an air of modesty all the way through.
If you caught my 5 Worst Movies of 2014 list, you may have noticed that The Signal is on that list. Why would I enjoy The Maze Runner and hate The Signal, when both have the common theme of a cold opening and isolation of the subjects until the very end? Well, because in The Maze Runner, our protagonist has other people to play off. You have group dynamics in the story, adding another dimension on top of the Big Brother factor created by the captors.
These captors are also more enjoyable; they are all-powerful and have violent beasts to do their bidding, but they also have purpose. We only find this out later on, but this is a great lead in to the next installment in the series, and offers a bit of perspective and resolution considering the secrecy surrounding the maze and its inhabitants. It’s a give and take kind of thing, and The Maze Runner nails it.
Watch it/ Don’t watch it?: The Maze Runner is definitely worth your time. Catch it with some friends or on date night (if you don’t plan on going out).
Notable performance: Will Poulter as Gally – I noticed him for the first time in We’re the Millers, and was impressed with how he does comedy; for him to transition to a more formidable character was quite enjoyable.