The Maze Runner (2014)

Maze runner Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the other ‘Gladers’ must find a way out of their prison.

Well this was a lot better than I expected. For a film aimed at a teenage audience it’s surprisingly mature. There is still the slight dilution and warping of real life that comes with a film aimed at this demographic (think Twilight, Harry Potter etc) but it’s still pretty good, and fairly strong stuff considering.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in a cargo lift, and is immediately violently sick. He has no memory of how he got there, of anything in fact – not even his name at this point. When the lift reaches its destination he finds himself in ‘The Glade’, an idyllic woody and grassy plain with a group of around 80 other teenage boys. None of them know why they are there and it emerges that all of them reached The Glade in exactly the same way and in the same amnesiac state as Thomas. The Glade is surrounded by ‘The Maze’, a stone and mechanical construction that is seemingly the boys’ only way out of The Glade – except in 3 years no one has yet found the exit.

The boys are able to make shelters from trees in The Glade and grow crops to survive but violence is ever-present there too. Anyone trapped in the maze at night will become prey to the murderous Grievers (huge bio-mechanical spider-like enemies with blades for legs). The Grievers aren’t the only danger – there are comparisons to be made with Lord Of The Flies, and the name George crossed off form a roster of the boys names coupled with a grave found in the woods, hints at serious infighting in the past. With Peter’s curiosity and intelligence making him stand out, he soon begins to attract the hostile attentions of Gally (Will Poulter) a much bigger boy who sees him as a threat.

Generally the story is well-told but there are annoyances including just a bit too much hinting and not enough explanation in the early part of the film. Peter : “What happens to boys who get trapped in the maze at night?”. *Enigmatic look*, “Take my word for it – you just don’t want to be there ok”. Peter : “What’s this for?” *Amused look*,  “You’ll find out soon enough..” Yes, this kind of thing – a lot. At first it’s tolerable but soon it starts to grate – and you’ll just want Peter to shout for a straight answer.

Acting among the young cast is generally good, although it is variable with accents slipping at times. Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) – the only female in the group – seems to have a very minor role, considering her dramatic entrance. But her character will no doubt be expanded on in future films.

I thought the ending was terrible initially (Hint : it’s a worse version of what you were expecting) but I did like the later twist on it and also it’s duplicity. This also leaves room for a Maze Runner 2. (Out now, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) I haven’t read the book(s) but I’d like to find out what is really going on. My personal theory is that the whole thing, everything, is just a simulation and they are all still stuck in those liquid filled tubes in the laboratory. But what do I know?

Surprisingly good. The sort of film I would have loved when I was a teenager. 7/10  (definitely add a point if you *are* a teenager.)

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