My 2014 Movies: The Maze Runner (#13)

A lot of people were excited about this movie when the trailers started to roll out for the Maze Runner. I remember looking at the trailer and actually going “eh”. It didn’t look bad by any means, but it was pretty hard to get as excited as I possibly should. Then I watched the movie in its second week in the theater with cautious yet hopeful expectations. While I probably wasn’t blown away by the film, I must say it was much better than I expected. It’s actually wicked good! (Get it?)

The Maze Runner is based on the book by James Dashner. The film takes place in an isolated area called the Glade, which is the center of a large maze. Every month or so, a new boy arrives up a basket-like contraption. They have no previous memory besides their name. They don’t know who placed them here or why, but nonetheless they must cooperate and survive.

The newest member of the Glade is a boy named Thomas. He gets the traditional welcome and orientation, while getting familiar with the community. Each member, including him is assigned a role to play by the group leader, Alby; however, Thomas becomes fascinated by the maze. The maze is considered dangerous with biologically engineered creatures called Grievers, and its ever-changing pattern. So, the maze is studied and traced by what are called “runners”. As the result of an accident, Thomas becomes one of these runners and searches for a way out of the maze.

The Maze Runner is one of two new movie franchises on this list that is based on popular novels. Unlike Divergent, my expectations were a bit higher for this film. However, I was 100% ready for the film to disappoint. I’m happy to report that there is no need to worry about the quality of this movie. It’s actually pretty good.

Now this movie is based on a book, and an apparently good book from what I hear. So the movie’s writing is already a proven concept to that end, at least in terms of how the story plays out. Where the movie’s writing is able to be judged is in how loyal it is to the source material, its ability to portray itself to newcomers, the movie’s pacing, and its dialogue. All of which work very well.

I do very much like the concept of the movie. Sure comparisons to the Hunger Games are almost inevitable, but that shouldn’t bother people too much, because this movie is very kind to people who haven’t read the books before (like me). The film has an excellent pace of which you receive information of the maze and its known history. You’re never kept waiting too long to find certain explanations for why things are the way they are, yet such information isn’t thrown at you all at once. And as far as suspense and events are concerned, they are also excellently paced.

The screenplay is also handled pretty good. The script is very down to earth and is light on the melodrama. It speaks particularly to young adults and teens effectively, which is good since you’re entire cast comprises of teens and young adults. Even when the movie tries to make a joke, it doesn’t sound hokey or forced. But that’s also because these characters grow on you over time.

Camerawork is pretty well executed. The Maze Runner is surprisingly not guilty of overusing shaky-cam. That is mainly due to most of the potentially graphic scenarios are cleverly hidden off-screen or covered with CG effects that fade out. It’s hard to explain, but it makes more sense on screen than it does on paper.

That’s not to say the action is dumbed down, though, because that’s one of The Maze Runner’s best aspects. All the fights in this film, minus one or two, involve the Grievers in some shape or form. Firstly, the Grievers look awesome! Very intimidating, dark and scorpion-like. The slightly mechanical aspect to them also gets points for design, but also make their movements all the more unpredictable and calculated. These things are pretty worthy foes and were awesome to see on the screen. When the group ends up fighting these creatures, it’s both suspenseful and fun to watch.

Acting is ideal for this movie. I wouldn’t say there’s a stand-out performance or that the acting is Oscar-worthy, but neither is necessary for this film. Everyone does there job well and pulls off the ideal amount of personality, emotion, and relatablilty. I guess the only area of note is Dylan O’Brien’s portrayal as Thomas. I underestimated him due to his role in Teen Wolf (a show I find incredibly cheesy and generic). Not that I thought he’d suck, but I questioned how good he’d be at a lead action role. But he really does it in this movie and is worthy of my kudos.

And with all of that said this is a fun and enthralling movie to see. This movie is probably best suited to kids, teens and young adults, but any adult action-adventure fans can also get into the film’s story. I can see why a person probably wouldn’t care much for it, but there’s nothing I can think of here that would be deemed terrible. Really it comes down to whether you’re interested in the concept and plot. Then again, if you are then you probably will see it anyway. But if you skipped it for whatever reason, I’d say you’re in good hands with this film.

View #12 here!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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