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Movie Review: The Maze Runner

By  Justin Carreiro     9:47 PM    Labels:,,,, 
The Hunger Games. Twilight. Harry Potter. These are just a few of the big blockbuster series that have made it from the book shelf to the big screen. All have received immense popularity first from their book series before heading to theatres. While some can be successful like "Divergent", others could falter like "The Mortal Instruments" - simply not reaching its full potential or successful enough to get a sequel created. The latest movie I watched in theatre is at the same crossroads. It's a somewhat popular book series that just released its much buzzed about first movie: The Maze Runner.

[Note: Similar to all movie reviews on this site, this will be a spoiler-free review. I will try to keep all details of the plot to a bare minimum.]

The Premise: Thomas (played by Teen Wolf's Dylan O'Brien) is a 16 year old boy suffering from amnesia who wakes up in a mysterious area known simply as the Glade. While Thomas is unable to remember anything from his past life, he soon learns from the Gladers, boys like Thomas who were transported to the Glade over the years, that they live in a small campsite surrounded by a deadly maze. The maze, which changes its layout every day, is filled with dangerous creatures, impossible traps and their only chance at escaping the Glade forever.

The Good: Since The Maze Runner was adapted from a novel, it had a great source material to develop its large cast of characters. Sometimes in films like these, the supporting players are simply background fodder to have a recognizable name but I quite enjoyed the interactions between the Gladers. A few stand outs that come to mind are British gardener Newt, Runner Minho, bully Gally, young Chuck and Teresa, the Glade's only girl. It got a bit confusing at times remembering ALL the Gladers (it was a giant camp...too many kids around), but the characters came out into their own. Also, Dylan O'Brien did a great job in the role of Thomas - I like him on Teen Wolf and I wasn't disappointed in his first real starring movie role.

The Maze Runner also packed plenty of action and special effects in the film. Particularly the design of the maze really stood out and showed off the dangers that lurked inside. The Grievers - the monsters that lurked in the maze - looked really creepy. I won't deny that I did jump once or two when they popped out of nowhere.

The Bad: I never read The Maze Runner so I don't have the basis to judge the source material. However, while watching the film, something always seemed to feel a tad off. I think the pace of the movie plot stood out the most to me as it sometimes felt rushed while other times it just dragged on. In particular Thomas got over his "panic" of having amnesia pretty quickly and was ready to enter the maze while only being in the Glade for what seemed like a few days. Also, how is it that in three years no one came even close to venturing deep into the maze and yet Thomas could do it? (Sorry, that will be my only plot reveal - it just really irked me. It probably gets explained more in the book with the Runners.) 

There were probably just a few things missing from the book in terms of the plot that I think would have added more to the film. It hit all the main points with lots of action and mystery, and yet I don't think much really happened with the story. Even after watching the film, I could describe The Maze Runner as a basic plot haiku!

Boy wakes up in maze.
Boy loses his memory.
Boy must escape maze.

The Results: 2/5!
The Maze Runner was a simple action-filled mystery about the dangers hidden within a maze. Dylan O'Brien and the cast did a great job of channeling the fear of living in this dystopian new  world. The special effects stood out and the design of the maze is something to enjoy, especially for fans who read the book series and loved the concept. The pace of the plot didn't keep me at the edge of my seat and it left me with more questions than eagerly waiting for the next surprising moment. It was a good film - not a great one - and it didn't have the same impact as other big book-to-film adaptations. Potentially it may be because I wasn't a fan of the book series before I watched the film and I didn't have the anticipation going in beforehand. However, if you're a fan of the book, you should check it out as it would connect with you and you would enjoy it.

Agree or disagree with the review? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Justin Carreiro

Justin is a longtime TV buff and gamer. He loves chatting about shows, playing video and board games, and his not-so-secret love for reality tv. He is also a fan of horror movies, music and a bookworm at heart. He spends his time in Toronto working in PR and Social Media.

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