The Maze Runner
Let’s paint a familiar picture: your sitting at a diner, sipping on a Coke through a straw while mom and dad talk about plans for whos going to meet up with grandma. Your only eight years old with no cell phone; so how did you pass the time? You played with that paper placemat that every restaurant that was family orientated had. Some had that easy word search that hid easy messages like “fries” and gumball” and some had an unfunny cartoon that was printed with the hope that the child would laugh anyway. What most had was the classic maze.
I myself have a couple of memories of holding a free crayon offered by the waitress and tracing my way though an uneven pattern that would lead me to the exit. These were easy, but I had fun solving them, giving me a sense of accomplishment before I dived into a hot dog.
What makes the maze puzzle so unique is that I think this may be the first example of a virtual game. Despite only using a pen to guide the way, you were thrown into network where your only goal was to get out. Solve the maze and you feel like you could take on another to prove that you were such a master. Let’s see you solve the death trap that is in The Maze Runner.
Sixteen-year-old Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brian) wakes up to find himself in an ascending cage which opens to a lush field and several other boys around his age. They collect the other boxes that came with him and the second in command Newt (played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster) tells Thomas about the way of life and their positions. Most of the boys farm and gather but a few select venture into a large maze that surround them. They are called the runners.
As Thomas begins to accept the community way of life, he accidentally gets left out in the maze when trying to save the others (the maze closes it’s gates at night as monsters fill the track). He manages to survive the nightfall and save his friends life. This grants him status as a runner, to the dismay of the group’s leader Gally (played by Will Poulter). As Thomas starts to learn about mapping the maze, a girl arrives in the cage along with a note that reads “the last one ever”. This puts more pressure to find a way through the treacherous puzzle before they run out of food and time.
The Maze Runner is another young adult novel getting it’s turn at a movie adaptation. What certainly separates this from the others is that this one is more boy orientated. Sort of a cross between the lost boys of Peter Pan and The Prisoner TV series, The Maze Runner was a lot better then I thought it could have been. The situation is more interesting and easier to follow then this year’s Divergent and it’s cast of young men shape it to be a better performance piece.
Except…there’s only one problem with the characters and it’s a major one; the main character. Thomas is really bland and forgettable and is just the generic nice hero. I don’t know if the actor Dylan is the issue as he does have a regular role on MTV’s Teen Wolf (I can’t justify this as I’ve never seen the show); but you know it’s a problem if the side characters are more memorable. As is, Thomas Brodie-Sangster makes for a good sidekick (so much so that I wish he were the focus) and Will Poulter is starting to show more acting skills (proven before in We’re the Millers).
I’ll give this four hard mazes out of five. The Maze Runner could have been as good as The Hunger Games had it casted a better performer or simply had a better character to put the focus on, but for a fun Friday night at the movies, I’ll take it for entertainment’s sake. This could have been worse.