The Maze Runner is Lord of the Flies if it were set in the YA dystopian world. Young Adult book adaptations never seemed to let up in the 2010’s. The Maze Runner was published in 2009 by James Dashner and adapted 5 years later. I eventually grew tired of the same formula over and over again. My brother went to see The Maze Runner, but I stayed behind. I guess the boy centric take on The Hunger Games and/or Divergent just didn’t appeal to me. When I finally watched The Maze Runner, I found it to be an entertaining enough fast-paced concept. We begin with our good looking protagonist Thomas. Dylan O’Brien doesn’t give Thomas too many easily definable traits, but he is good at showing his growing maturity. Thomas is one of many teenage boys sent from an underground elevator into a grassy civilization with no memory apart from their name. Like most YA stories, everything has a cute nickname. The all-boy society is called the “Glade,” the boys are called the “Gladers,” and new arrivals are called “Greenies.” Not to mention the various jobs performed by the Gladers that also have nicknames to remember.
The most important job storywise is the titular “Runner.” The primitive society is surrounded by an enormous stone wall and blocked off by the titular Maze. The Maze was my biggest draw, because it was just different enough to set it apart from other YA movies. Runners explore the Maze in an attempt to find a way out and leave before it turns dark. Night feels like a horror movie whenever robotic spiders called “Grievers” come out to hunt. I don’t know much about the book, but the cast seems to be very close to their book descriptions. Alby is the African American leader of the Glade, Chuck is the younger pudgy kid who hangs around Thomas, and Minho is the Asian head Runner who works directly with Thomas. An older Thomas Brodie-Sangster proves likable as second-in-command Newt. He becomes a close friend to Thomas and recruits him as a Runner when his decisive skills prove useful. Will Poulter is the only one doubting Thomas as the antagonistic Gally.
Their entire society gets turned upside down when a girl is the last to arrive in the Glade. Kaya Scodelario fills the role of attractive YA brunette as Teresa. She knows Thomas’ name and shares a connection with him. Society begins to crumble when the Grievers are let loose. Leaving Thomas, Teresa, and the rest of his loyal friends with plans to escape. The massive labyrinth is full of high tech puzzles that are ever changing, but they eventually find their way out. SPOILER ALERT! They end up in the WCKD lab that Thomas and Teresa both have vague memories of. Turns out there was some kind of post-apocalyptic event where a solar flare lead to a virus outbreak called the “Flare.” It turns people into solar zombies, and placing teenagers in a deadly maze was somehow supposed to lead to a cure. All this is being explained on screen by the only high profile actress Patricia Clarkson playing the vaguely sinister head of WCKD Ava Paige. Surviving Gladers are then sent to the sandy surface to initiate Phase Two aka the sequel. The Maze Runner is far from original, but its competent production ran up its appeal.
Followed by: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials