It’s late summer and not a lot of stellar releases are coming out right now, so it was kind of a no-brainer to catch The Maze Runner this weekend. Is this going to be a unique adventure movie or another dystopian teen drama?
The movie opens as Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is lifted in a mysterious elevator and finds himself in a green field and only remembers his name. There is a small civilization of boys that all live in this “glade” and all of them also have no memory of their lives before. As he tours the area, he is introduced to the concept of a giant maze that surrounds the glade and certain boys (called Runners) that run the maze every day and try to plot an escape. If they don’t return by night, the maze closes and mysterious monsters known as Grievers sweep through and essentially kill everyone inside. But Thomas is curious and his curiosity soon unbalances the entire civilization.
On the basic foundational level of this being an adventure and mystery film, it succeeds. 90% of the movie is trying to figure out this maze and unravel the mysteries and this adventure is wildly fun and suspenseful. I was literally on the edge of my seat for some of these crazy maze sequences and the effects for these moments were pretty incredible.
As for the cast and characters, I was definitely interested in the characters. Our supporting cast was probably more interesting than our lead though, as Thomas (O’Brien) didn’t really grab my attention but instead felt irrational and almost reckless with the lives of his new friends.
What doesn’t work?
The ending of this film may not be satisfying to some viewers (I wasn’t necessarily happy with it). It doesn’t really explain what has been happening and blatantly promotes a sequel, in one of the most obvious ways ever. I’m tired of these big dystopian franchises, I was kind of just hoping for some escapism and a one-and-done mystery movie. Regardless how you feel about sequels, the answer to what has been happening may or may not make sense to you. That’s a big problem if you’re left confused when the lights come back on.
Also, a lot of the movie takes place at night and these scenes weren’t especially well-lit and it was difficult to make out who was doing what or who just died. This is director Wes Ball’s first feature-length movie, so this may have been intentional but it was a poor choice. It didn’t help that a shaky-cam technique made it already difficult to make out what was happening in these action sequences.
While the ending will be divisive, most fans will love the 90% of the movie before that. There are some of the year’s best action sequences and some truly suspenseful moments that other teen dystopian movies haven’t quite mastered yet. I had a blast and would definitely recommend catching The Maze Runner just so I can talk to someone else about how it ended and where it goes next.