Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Maze Runner Review

Here we go again with yet another adaption of a young-adult novel. At this point, I wouldn't say I'm completely sick of these. If Hollywood gives us another strong series like The Hunger Games, then I am totally down. However, I have come to the point where I need them to bring something new or unique to the table because these have become very predictable and thus pretty boring. If we take the Dystopian angle, we are in a post-apocalyptic world where the government is in shambles and a new evil dictator-like figure is in command. Things are looking bleak until suddenly a chosen one comes onto the scene and gives everyone hope. Add a love story angle in there, usually a love triangle, and we've got ourselves a series! It's worked a few times. But now I'm ready for Hollywood to move on because it's gotten old. Divergent didn't work for me because of these reasons. The Giver, despite being an amazing book, didn't work for me because they changed it up to much to fit into the formula. The Maze Runner I wasn't looking really looking forward to because I feared it would suffer the same fate. A September release date gave me the impression that the studio didn't have much confidence in the movie, so that was another red flag. But I decided to give it a shot and as it turns out I was pleasantly surprised. For most of the movie. Then it crashed and burned in the end.

Like I said, if I'm going to enjoy these movies, they need to bring something new and unique to the table. The Maze Runner did just that. We start the movie by jumping right into the action. Our main character, who we find out shortly is named Thomas, is being lifted up into this big maze where there is a large number of other teenage boys. The middle section is their home-base per-se while the maze is on the outside edges. Their goal is to eventually get out of the maze, but the problem is that come nightfall these deadly creatures come into the maze and so at that point they need to stay at home base. Then every morning the maze changes. So when Thomas comes, they've been there for three years and haven't made a whole lot of progress. Now here's what made this interesting. When Thomas comes up, he knows nothing about himself or his past. He doesn't even know his name at first. And thus we as an audience don't know anything either. Thus a mystery element was added that I found fascinating. I love mystery movies. That and there's a lot of really intense maze sequences that made this movie a lot of fun.

I'm not going to talk about the ending of this movie. But that's where this movie kind of unraveled a bit. Now I've heard a lot of reviews that said they completely hated the ending, but I won't go that far. I didn't hate the ending. It was just disappointing. The whole movie was really interesting because of the mystery element as well as the maze sequences, but then when it started to reveal what was actually going on, I was like, really? That's it? Lamesauce. The final sequences were still entertaining, but it was less intense and less interesting once the reveal happened. That said, there are a lot of strong performances from this young cast. First and foremost is our main character Thomas played by Dylan O'Brien from Teen Wolf. Then we have the girl that shows up halfway through named Teresa played by Kaya Scodelario who showed up in Clash of the Titans. Those two are our main protagonists and they do a great job of carrying the movie. And thankfully a romance between the two is completely avoided in at least this first movie, which I was actually appreciate of. A few other supporting characters need mentioning. Will Poulter, who played Eustace in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, plays Gally -- the bully of the group who never likes Thomas. He's actually my favorite performance. And finally, Aml Ameen from last year's Lee Daniels' The Butler is Alby and newcomer Blake Cooper is Chuck. Both of them were fun to watch.

So in the end, The Maze Runner isn't a complete waste of time like some other young-adult book adaptions that have happened recently. It has a lot of strong performances from the cast. The first two-thirds of the movie were very good because of the mystery element and the maze sequences. But unfortunately, the last third of the movie became very bland in ways that I won't reveal here. No, I have not read the books, so I can't give an honest comparison for those who have. I'm not much of a reader to begin with, but I'm always hoping I'll walk out of the theater with a desire to pick up the books and start reading. That's the point where I know the movie was a complete success. It happened with The Hunger Games. But it didn't happen here. And that's unfortunate. For the record, I did go to the movie with someone who had read and loved the books and from that I can say fans of the books should be pleased with this adaptation, but that's all I can say. I did enjoy this more than Divergent and The Giver, but not by a whole lot. My grade for The Maze Runner is a 7/10.

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