Movie Review: Maze Runner

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When Thomas wakes up, he is in a cage. With no memory or recollection of the past, he rides up a dark chute with various supplies. The cage stops, a door opens, and a boy jumps in. With no welcome, not greeting, and no smiles he pulls Thomas out and says simply-

“Welcome to the Glade”

Thomas quickly learns that there is only one main objective in the Glade- to get out. The only way out is through a maze. A maze that changes every day and contains creatures therein only found in stuff made of nightmares- Grievers. One day though, the maze stops moving, the Grievers storm the Glade, and now more than ever, Thomas and his companies must find a way out or at least, die trying.

Because those are the only two options they have.

Things I Liked

Thomas joins a group of a couple dozen boys who have somehow established order in the small clearing called the Glade. They don’t know why they are there, only what their names are. In this group they have learned how to get along with each other, and formed a small community where, they may not care about each other, but they do get along. A few boys stand out though, and are good examples of selfless leadership. One sacrifices himself for Thomas, and another acts as the encourager- helping people to continue when things get tough.

Thomas however, is the bravest and most selfless of all. At one point, he dashes into the maze to save another as the maze closes. This means to most boys, certain death, and Thomas knew it. He still ran in, and strove to save another glader he did not know. Over and over Thomas is very lightly portrayed as a “moses” type figure. His actions are almost always selfless, for the purpose of getting the boys out, not necessarily for him to escape.

It was nice to see a film that did not include useless sexual content, and this film was clean in this way.

Things I Didn’t Like

These boys may be younger in age, but have mouths like sailors. Reminiscent of the book, they spout real life profanities about two dozen times in the film ranging from the H word, S word, B—-d, etc… and some made up ones of their own.  God’s name is used in vain twice.

Grievers might as well have been called “Killers” because honestly, that’s all they do in this movie. Huge fatty bulbous masses with metal legs for propulsion, they rip to shreds any unfortunate gladder who might get in their reach. Snatching, impaling, tossing, crushing, and mauling the gladers seems to be their main purpose, and we see glimpses of their handiwork in a fast camera style reminiscent of the hunger games. The boys’ screams perhaps are the worst of those scenes, as their cries of pure pain and terror are things not easily forgotten. Blood and gore are virtually nonexistent though, so if you are looking for a plus… that might be it.

Thomas is also attacked by a glader who has been “Stung”, and he barely survives. Later that glader is banished to the maze, and the banishment is truly heart wrenching. Thomas Stings himself to get clues out of the maze. Another boy is shot saving another. Yet another boy is impaled with a spear, and collapses in dramatic fashion. We also see an old laboratory with dead bodies and blood everywhere.

Perhaps though more than the content of the film, was the lack of real moral good in the film. There is a strong survival of the fittest feel to the movie, where we see the gliders who were slower die, and the ones smarter live. What is right? What is wrong? These boys are treated and expect to behave without a moral guidance, which results in brutality expected in a place with no authority. At the end of the film, they continue in this way, with no change in the status quo, and no growth in the survivors.

Closing Thoughts

“Who we were before doesn’t matter. What does matter is who we are now, and what we do.”
~Newt~

A dark combination of Lost and Lord of the Flies, “Maze Runner” is the latest film to hit the screens in the Young Adult dystopian genre. Based off the novel by James Dashner, which I’ve read, the film follows closely to the characters and their choices but jumps a bit more freely with the progression of the plot. What it retains and executes perfectly is the tense, sinister, and creepy feel that something is always up and nothing is ever right. Spine-tingling at times, this film takes you on an adrenaline pumping ride of “gotchas” and last-minute escapes. All for what? Honestly you don’t find out, or at least, as I’m in the middle of the book series, you have yet to know.

While the book and this film are engrossing (and gross) as a whole, it struck me while watching the film just how little I cared about the characters portrayed. So much time is spent unraveling the mysteries of the maze that the people in it are neglected so that, when some of the boys die, there is not so much a feeling of loss. This is unnerving to me as one would think the people dying would be of more concern than the solution. Sadly, this is not the case. Rather, boys of all ages are crunched, stabbed, and tossed to their deaths by the “Grievers,” and ultimately we just wind up caring whether or not the solution is found.

That could be why, at the end of the film, there is no feeling of success or accomplishment when they do come to the end of the maze. There are no lessons learned, no people changed, and dozens of lives lost. If anything, they are right back where they started, but with a few survivors and again, no purpose. And that, at the core, is the problem. In all of the struggles, the sacrifices, and the sprintings – there is never given a greater reason as to “why.” Granted, this is the first of the series and I am sure they’ll take the films all the way through the books to the end of the story – wherever it leads.

But as a standalone film, “Maze Runner” offers no hope, no growth, and no peace. Just a gladeful of the deaths of young boys, a few glimpses of leadership, and a fast-paced story from beginning to end. It starts you in maze and leaves you in a bigger one. In the words of the boys of the Glade- “It’s pretty much Klunk.”

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