The Maze Runner (2014)
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.
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.)