This one is not going to be a book versus movie kinda review. And that’s because I haven’t read the book this movie is based on – The Maze Runner by James Dashner, although I have often mentioned on this blog my intention to get to the book.
Instead I took the shortcut and watched the movie.
Which is actually kinda cool as I had no idea what the story was about and where it would go, or basically I wasn’t constantly over-comparing the movie with the book, thereby enjoying myself a bit more than I usually do at these type of things.
This is a pretty strange plot, but I”ll try to do my best to summarize it without any spoilers.
A bunch of teenage boys are trapped in a verdant lush green land (called the glade) surrounded by immense walls. These boys have no memories of their past lives nor do they know how or why they have landed up in this place. Every month, a new addition is sent to this place through an underground elevator along with supplies of food and drink, and other living necessities.
When the protagonist Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brien) is beamed up the elevator, he shatters the status quo with his questions and his eagerness to escape by exploring the giant maze that exists beyond the walls of the glade.
Soon there is a standoff between the boys who want to risk all to try to escape, and the ones who’d rather stay back, and the rest of the story deals with how the brave band of boys deal with this standoff and escape the maze to the outside world.
Of course, there is also the question of why the maze, and why these lads were dumped there, all these questions also need to be answered by the end of the movie.
This movie starts off in great style with a very tense Thomas flung into an elevator and thrust dazed and confused into the daylight and into a group of strange boys.
The movie then goes a little slow letting us viewers settle into this strange new place and atmosphere. Since I didn’t know anything about the plot or setting, I appreciated the slow pace in the beginning that allows us to understand the dystopian setting. However, people who have read the book may find the first section a bit slow or simplistic.
The pace of the movie picks up in the second half when our protagonist Thomas enters the maze (which he is not allowed to do as per the rules of the group), to save the group leader.
The maze is a dangerous place and no one has ever survived a night there, but Thomas manages to do that and more. His actions give the group some hope that they can find a way out of the maze, and into their freedom.
The sections in the maze are the best part of the movie, tense and nail-biting.
However, all the action and tension cannot make up for the large loopholes in the plot. There are compelling scenes in the movie, which work well at the time of watching it, but later on you wonder, huh, why didn’t they do this instead, or how come they didn’t figure this out earlier? There were just way too many moments like that.
Another very annoying thing is the lack of female characters. It’s very jarring to watch a whole movie with boys and then suddenly have one girl tacked on towards the end in a very purposeless way. If you see the movie poster, it looks like she is one of the main characters. Well, she is one of the main characters, but apart from being the last one ever into the glade (making us think she is going to be a significant game-changer), she does nothing of any significance.
The ending is also a huge letdown. This is not really the fault of the movie because this is the first of a trilogy. But if you are watching the movie as a standalone, be warned that there is no sense of closure, and really nothing is explained in a coherent makes sense kind of way. You probably need to watch the rest of the movies to understand more about this world.
But frankly, it is not such a compelling question that I will run to the cinemas to watch the second part – The Scorch Trials that released recently.
Have you watched The Maze Runner or its sequel? Have you read the books? Which is better, book or movie?