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The Maze Runner (2014)


The Maze Runner
 
Released late in 2014, The Maze Runner is one of the most recent books to fall prey to a film adaptation. Based on a popular YA novel, the dystopian world was popular enough to warrant (already!) a sequel which releases later this year. Its story is a familiar one in the dystopian world. This one follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brian), a young man who is dropped into a world known only as “The Glades.” There he is surrounded by a gang of other boys, of all ages who have made the place a kind of home. In charge is Alby (Aml Ameen) and second in command is Newt (Thomas Bordie-Sangster). With no memory of where he can from, who put him here and why he’s here, Thomas fights against everyone’s rules and is especially curious about the maze that surrounds The Glades.
 
He’s told not to step outside the gate – a gate that closes around the maze every night, lest he never return. But Thomas’ isn’t about to sit back and not fight for a return home… wherever that may be. Things get more complicated and confusing when the next addition to their group is not a boy, but a girl named Teresa (Kaya Scoldelario) with a note that reads she’s the last one ever.  

FILM REVIEW | The Hunger Games (2012)
 
 
Ordinarily, I like the dystopian worlds these young adult novels create and talented filmmakers bring alive. This movie was an entirely different deal. Honestly, I did not care for much about this world. It’s kind of similar to The Hunger Games in that the option of choice and freedom is stripped from its participants. Only in this version, they don’t realize they're used as pawns (fully) nor do they understand what it is that’s been taken from them. The book was released before Divergent which gives it some edge on being compared to that (and I don’t think it really should be). I don’t know what angles the book looks at or if there is “more” to the story, but the movie kind of bombed for me. Unlike its peers, this was more of a laughable, hard-to-take-serious world. The villains were creepy, yes, but they were also hard to accept as a real villain (ironic since they could shred anyone in their path in two) which meant that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t really take them seriously as a legit threat to the characters.   

Now that that rant is out of the way, let’s talk about the good. The acting was fantastic. Most of the cast were new and are actually relative newcomers to Hollywood period, although Will Poulter will be a familiar face to those of us who love the Narnia series. Beyond that, no one was familiar. Everyone does a great job with their characters separate from the book since I don’t have a clue what they are like in James Dashner’s hands, but here, they’re quite interesting. I especially admired Thomas’ journey to fight his way out of confinement and into freedom.  
 
The Maze Runner
 
Closing out this review, I’d be remiss if not also stating this: for its genre, this is also probably one of the least “fussy” films I've experienced. There isn’t a lot of teenage drama aside from the dissention among the ranks. Romance is non-existent and there is certainly nothing that speaks to a love triangle. There are some sad happenings that I’d assume will only hit hard those unfamiliar with the book. The world inside the maze and even the structure of the maze itself is unique. There’s a lot of visual creativity that went into that. Had the movie been trimmed a smidgeon (I had a few moments of boredom later on) and the threats to their world not been so… weird, I’d have ranked this more on par with its peers. As it stands, I just didn’t love this film and logically, I don't expect I'll read the book. I don’t regret having seen it and will see the sequel (why is the sequel turnaround so fast for this series!?) eventually. Though my reactions tend to be tepid for the film as a whole. It does have some good things and its strong cast means that the story is all the more fierce for it. 

What about you: did you prefer the book or film?
How was this as an adaptation?
Comment away, if you like.  

(There are some “intense” images in this because of fighting or characters running for these lives from giant creepy Grievers. Many are attacked and killed by said creatures. There are some mild profanities scattered. The film is rated PG13.)
 
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Rissi
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16 comments:

  1. The book was definitely better and they switched a few things with the movie, but compared to other adaptations, I think it stuck pretty close. It's not a favorite YA, but still enjoyable. I have the second book waiting to read before the movie comes out, but I'll probably wait until it's available to rent (like I did with this one). While not an all-time favorite, I'm still curious enough to find out what happens. :)

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    1. As am I curious, Jamie! I'd definitely like to know what's going on beyond this story... and I'm glad the book is better. Perhaps that is inspiration to read the book. I don't usually mind changes. Hope you like the sequel - I'd love to chat with you about it when we finally see it. :)

      Glad you commented and visited, Jamie. :)

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  2. I thought they followed the book fairly well and it actually made me get back into the series. I liked it a lot to help me fill in the holes of the imagery
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. Yay! That's awesome, Missie. You know, I just read somewhere that the sequel was going to stray further from the book than book one. I liked the movie, it just wasn't my favorite. :)

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  3. I've never read the book, but I actually really liked this adaptation (although there were a few things that didn't make sense to me- but maybe that would be cleared up if I read the book series). I really appreciated that it was free of a lot of typical teenage drama and romance.

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    1. I'm glad you liked this adaptation, Hayden. I did enjoy it, it just didn't make my favorite dystopian. That being said, like you, that fuss-free teenage drama and romance was refreshing. I thought perhaps the sequel (movie) would reveal more of this world's secrets. Or one can assume so.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Glad you visited and commented. :)

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  4. I tried to read this book and never ended up finishing it because it was too violent for me at the time. I may try to pick it back up again someday though.

    Will Poulter's in here?! Gosh. I'd like to see him in something again -- I liked him as Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and heard he was an Oscar nominee for another film -- ? Is that correct?

    find me--
    Dance A Real & walking in the air.

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    1. I didn't even try to pick up the book... though I intended to. That being said, as usual, I grew too impatient and watched the movie without taking the extra time to read the book. Good to have your perspective.

      He is! It was fun seeing Will in something again. Aside from "Dawn Treader," I don't know what else he was in to be honest. He was in one film that earned some award buzz, but I'm not sure it was an Oscar nominee.

      Thanks for sharing, Hannah. Glad you visited. :)

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  5. What you said about the film having a laughable and "hard-to-take-serious" world- YES, EXACTLY!! I was pretty disappointed with this one too. The only thing I really enjoyed about this movie was the fact that our local theater was trying out a three-screen panorama for Maze Runner called Barco Escape. That was pretty cool (for all of 5 minutes that the screens were used, that is). ;) I'll probably watch the sequel, just because I'm curious to see where they'll take it. Thanks for the review, Rissi! It was totally spot on. :)

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    1. I just couldn't totally immerse myself in this one like I did Divergent (which I loved). I'd even go so far as to say, near the end, I was a tiny bit bored. (The cast was good though.) That being said, now they're onto what's next, I am curious enough to watch the sequel... but we'll see. Leaves questions hanging! :)

      As for how you saw it in theaters, that sounds amazing. Wow. That would be quite an experience.

      Thank you - as always, for the comment. Glad to see you around and chat with you, Bekah. :) :) :)

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  6. I actually like this series a lot. Better than Divergent even, in a lot of ways -- but they're not really that comparable. I read the book before seeing the film and enjoyed it very much and I think they did a great job adapting it! What makes it stand out for me and makes me like it is mainly I think what you mentioned -- the way it isn't "fussy." Which makes sense with it's having a male lead. It's just loads and loads of action and mystery and I really enjoy it that way. And I really like the straightforward, gritty atmosphere the film has.

    I agree that the world it's set in is a little unbelievable, but some way or another I can suspend belief really well with them. I read the two sequels too, and am very excited for the next installment! There's a ton more going on that's yet to be seen! That's one of the best things about it I think -- the way it's handles it's mystery. :)

    Plus Will Poulter is awesome, and so is Thomas Brodie Sangster. :D

    Great review Rissi! Sorry you didn't like it too much, but I hope you liked it enough to give the rest of the franchise a shot. :)

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Sarah! I wonder if I'd have liked it better a.) if I had read the book first and b.) if I'd started watching it earlier. I watched it late at night and the length seemed a bit long to me. I'm glad to hear it's a strong adaptation. Like you, I would agree this can't really be compared to Divergent though I do see reflections of THG in it.

      The fact that this wasn't "fussy" makes me super happy! Sometimes the story gets too caught up in that and it can lessen the affect the other emotions should have. (Having a male lead almost demands that I suppose.)

      The world wasn't my favorite dystopian (I think I've liked Divergent's world best) world... but still, interesting.

      LOVED the acting. I thought everyone did a terrific job.

      As for the sequel, I am so going to watch it. Perhaps by then I'll have read the books and be anticipating what's to come. Thank you so much for commenting, reading and sharing your thoughts, Sarah. I always enjoy reading your perspective. :)

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  7. I agree about the hard-to-take-seriously aspect, I had to chuckle when you said (I read?) that, because I thought the villains were even more ridiculous in the book, and the movie did a good job making them more believable, I thought. Like Sarah said, though, there's lots more to come! I enjoyed the books a lot more than I expected, and liked the movie more than I thought I would as well. It's really nice to have a male lead.

    My favorite thing about this series was that there wasn't really any places where the plot dragged or turned stale in my opinion. It really keeps moving and developing, and consistently interested and surprised me. I definitely recommend the books, and I'm really looking forward to the next movie!

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    1. It was nice to have a male lead. Which I suspect is a big reason why this wasn't as dramatic and overly "fussy." That being said, I'm also glad to know the villains are better in the movie. I mean, I get they WERE terrifying... but they were also laughable. Yeah, let me work on making that sound legit. ;)

      Thanks for the book recommendation, Lizzie! I'd still like to at least try the first book (I think I have a copy) and see where that takes me. After that, maybe I'd rent the film again and then of course, I am going to see the sequel. :)

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  8. The plot IS very strange. I read the book, and it was entertaining, but I didn't care for the writing style ( a lot of telling, and not showing...) I thought the movie was pretty good. It brought the story to life, and stuck close to the book itself :)

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    1. Hi, Rachel. Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your thoughts on The Maze Runner. I'm glad to know the movie followed closely. To be honest, from what I've read of the book, it seems like I'd have a more favorable opinion of it than the book.

      Glad you stopped by. :)

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