THE MAZE RUNNER | MOVIE REVIEW

THE MAZE RUNNER, a film I have been sooooooooooooooooooooo (I repeat sooooooooooooooooooooooo) keen on seeing for like EVER. I have read the first book, from James Dashner, and am currently immersed in the second of the four book series. Basically think LORD OF THE FLIES meets THE CUBE meets THE HUNGER GAMES meets LOST and you have the plot in one. Throw in the hottest male teen actors of the moment, give it a director who wants to make it really gritty, and you are onto a winning franchise, this thing should make $$$. Will it be the next HUNGER GAMES? who knows? That is up to the marketing companies, but for me the film is a HUGE tick, a massive WIN and while flawed in a few areas, it is one of my action films of the year. THE MAZE RUNNER is out Thursday 18th in all multiplexes in Australia (19th in the U.S.), it is being released from 20th Century Fox, runs for 113mins and is rated M. 

 

THE MAZE RUNNER MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
THE MAZE RUNNER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | AUSTRALIAN MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakes on an open aired cage lift travelling up at high speed. He is dazed, confused and frightened. The cage reaches the apex of its route and here he is greeted by a motley crew of teenage boys. “Welcome to the Glade Greenie.” Thomas has no idea of his name even and most of his memories are all gone. The same thing happened to all the boys in the Glade but after a day or two their names at least come back. The Glade is a large field with a small forest and this is where the boys live their life. Every month on the dot the cage arrives with basically anything they ask for to assist with survival and another boy. Seems simple for them. Not.

The Glade is surrounded by the biggest baddest maze you will ever see, it opens in the morning and it closes in the night. The Glade’s boys have one team of runners who spend all day running the maze, mapping it, and trying to find out. The catch? The maze changes its layout every day and if you are caught in the maze after it closes you are never seen again.

Things start to change when Thomas arrives, in three years he is the most inquisitive and will not rest, he has weird dreams and he recognises a few things. He is also the only person who survives the maze overnight and gets away from The Grievers, mechanical spawns of satan, who wander the maze at night killing everything alive. Once Thomas (and two other people) survive the night in the maze, they get a note in the cage saying “she is the last” and the only female to ever be sent into the maze. She also knows Thomas but barely anything else.

 

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THE MAZE RUNNER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | THE GROUP LOOKING OVER THE CAGE

 

New Hollywood director Wes Ball does an admirable job with the film. He adopted his style for the film from watching abundant Terrence Malick films and really wanted to make it gritty and more “adult” looking (whatever that means). He directs it fast paced, with good interactions with the amazing cast and visually, THE MAZE is mind blowing. The maze itself is just freaking epic and was better than my expectations and imagination after reading the book. The downside is the adaptation from Dashner’s book really does cut chunks from the book and make it more “movie.” The downside is some things in the film lose their significance and a few things just make little sense.

Big things missing, 1) Thomas and Teresa do not speak in their minds, how they can write this out is a bit odd, it is quite significant in the story for the first and second book. 2) The book and the film explain that each month mostly everything they request arrives in the cage. In the book they have materials to build their versions of houses to live in, in the movie they live in twig shacks and basic thatch coverage, surely they would request more than twigs. I think they were trying to adopt a more “LOST” or “LORD OF THE FLIES” tribal feel – this seemed absolutely ridiculous when they then hide in one of these from Grievers – these things can pretty much punch through stone and you have them hiding in a thatch roof tribal hut? Derrrr 3) The scene not long after Thomas has settled and an “affected” runner just attacks him near the cemetry – in the book it has a lot of explanation and the biting and poisoning goes into details, in the movie he is just there, no explanation and Kernel Jack, who attended with me, was confused as to how on earth he was bitten during the day and ended up in the Glade attacking Thomas. 4) Towards the end of the film the “hatch” (so to say to limit spoilers) is incredibly different and I liked the one from the book better. This is more visually doable for the movie but it detracted from the story for me. 5) Teresa in the movie is just basically useless, there was pretty much no point of even having the character in it – she has one funny scene and then just tags along. We all know that Kaya Scodelario can act (SKINS) but the character is poorly written into the movie.

 

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THE MAZE RUNNER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | THOMAS (DYLAN O’BRIEN) AND TERESA (KAYA SCODELARIO)

 

There is one other thing that pissed me off, I actually scoffed, the Gladers are all being attacked by Grievers and are all running which ways to hide. The main group are all running tight with burning wooden torches for light – they all get amongst reeds to hide and one of the main characters says “shhhhhhhh” so they can hide from the Grievers – but the stupid thing is they still have their blazing torches – generally at night time a flaming torch would be a bigger giveaway than some talking, especially to a genetic robot deathbot intent on destruction.

That being said my judgements are purely based on reading the book and comparing, and for the last one, simple logic. Of course most of the biggest fans of the movie will have read the book. Kernel Jack also enjoyed it and I have to say that while the comparisons favour the book over the movie the film meets all expectations required for a decent film. Good actors, good story, something to keep you interested, an action plot that keeps moving, and an outcome you actually are invested in seeing.

 

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THE MAZE RUNNER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | THOMAS (DYLAN O’BRIEN)

 

I will have a slight bias for the film, besides being a huge fan of the book, and YA books in general, Dylan O’Brien is one of my favourite actors on TV at the moment. He stars as Stiles on the MTV smash hit show TEEN WOLF. I freaking love this show. I got Dylan’s autographed pic from the show framed – the guy plays an incredibly funny geeky hero on the show. If you liked BUFFY then suss this show out!! His Thomas is brilliant, internalised, as O’Brien is great at doing from TW. He also for the first time shows he has star power and can carry a film as its lead. He was up against Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl, Revenge) and dude of the moment (Brenton Thwaites, THE GIVER, THE SIGNAL, MALEFICENT). It also has Will Poulter, loved him in the amazing SON OF RAMBOW and then he made me lol a lot in WE’RE THE MILLERS. And to top it off there is Thomas Brodie-Sangster, you gotta love this kid. The cutest kid ever who fell in love in LOVE ACTUALLY, and recently got slaughtered getting Bran to safety in GAME OF THRONES. Special mentions to all the other teen cast in the film, they were all admirable and likable and all performances were great.

 

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THE MAZE RUNNER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | RUNNERS ENTER THE MAZE

 

The winners of the film, besides the leads is the maze itself, the art direction, special effects team and all involved in making the look of the maze excelled – the film is worth it for the maze alone, I could have handled the leads just being trapped in the maze for the entire film, it is epic and ancient and just mammoth. Considering it is mostly all CGI the production of this alone is award worthy.

If you love the book, if you love the leads, if you love a good “sci-fi” styled adventure, escape film then this is for you! Get your tickets on September 18th and let me know what you think of it. This will make the JK Blu Ray collection.

 

JK’S POP SCORE:

4 Pops

 KERNEL JACK’S POP SCORE:

4 Pops