September brings us yet another young adult film adaptation. This year has already seen quite a few to hit the big screen, “Vampire Academy”, “Divergent”, “The Fault in Our Stars”, “If I Stay”, “The Giver” (a movie review coming soon), and now we have reached “The Maze Runner”. This giant output for these films is partly why I have been reviewing the “Harry Potter” series (the other reason being it gives me an excuse to watch them again). With so many big blockbuster films in its genre it’s hard to stand out amongst it’s contemporaries. “The Maze Runner” tires it’s best to be something new and different but instead the story starts off intriguing but it wears off interest quickly, not making the best of its own potential and falling into a sloppy third act. It’s not without some merits but it’s not enough to warrant any real praise.
“The Maze Runner” follows a young man named Thomas as he is mysteriously dumped into a large community of boys. His mind is wiped and can only remember his name. Surrounded around him and the rest of the group is a large expansive maze. The only hope is to become a “runner” and try to find a way out and discover the truth behind the maze.
The film starts off rather intriguing. You as the viewer are dropped right in the middle of this world as confused as the main character is. As many other reviewers have noted it’s similarities and its roots in “The Lord of the Flies”. Yet it’s still able to hold its self above its similarities and feel rather fresh. It’s darker, the danger feels real, and the mystery will keep you hooked through the first act. Unlike “Divergent” (which borrows heavily from other stories in its subgenre) “Maze Runner” tries very hard to be new and different, and for the first act it does.
In director Wes Ball’s feature film debut, he demonstrates that he is more than capable behind the camera. The tone is appropriate, and the action scenes have some nice tension. Some of the sequences in the maze at points come off like a monster movie more than a fantasy. The problems begin not of Ball’s doing, but instead because of scripting.
As the story continues the characters become less and less interesting. They don’t develop and keep on becoming increasingly hollow, stock characters instead of flesh and blood. Dylan O Brain (who looks a little like Logan Lerman) is a likeable and confident lead as Thomas. Yet eventually, like every character here, he becomes an empty shell. With no memory obviously it makes it difficult to make a full three dimensional character but there still can be plenty of development. None of them advance and I felt less and less invested in them as the movie went on.
The final act is the last nail in the coffin. The final revelation is too typical and cookie cutter. I don’t want to go into specifics, at risk of spoiling it for anyone else whom hasn’t seen it yet. That being said the ending comes off as a desperate attempt to start a franchise. It’s predictable and formulaic, regardless of whether or not it’s in the book.
As far as young adult movie adaptations go, this isn’t the worst film to ever hit screens. It fact it has some strong points (which is mostly in the first act) and it was attempting to be different among so many look-a likes The script however lets down what could have been an excellent movie even with director Wes Ball doing a great job behind the camera. I’m somewhat interested in a sequel and see where the story leads even with the horrendous ending.