With these popular teen dystopian film adaptations of book trilogies, while most people like to read the books before watching the movies, I have this weird thing where I like to watch the first movie, see if I’m into it, and then speed-read through all the books in the series before the next film comes out.
Let’s see what I thought about this one.
Synopsis (IMDB): Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape.
WHAT I LIKED.
The feel of the film.
I really liked the aura of mystery in this. The ending was predictable, but not predictable at the same time. I still found myself a little surprised at things that happened throughout the story, which was nice.
Dylan O’Brien, Thomas-Brodie Sangster, and Will Poulter.
These three actors stood out especially to me. First, Dylan O’Brien really surprised me here. The only other thing I’ve seen him in is Teen Wolf, and didn’t really enjoy much about that show. He was great as the protagonist, and I think he did especially well in the action scenes – or he just had a phenomenal stunt double, who knows? Moving on to Thomas-Brodie Sangster, I’ve loved him since his Love Actually (2003) and Nanny McPhee (2005) days. After venturing off the grid for a bit (in my eyes), when he appeared in Game of Thrones, my mind was blown. In The Maze Runner, he held the perfect balance between maturity, while also keeping his boyish charm and sort of gangly, awkwardness. Also, I’m SO glad they didn’t make him lose his accent. Lastly, Will Poulter made a great Gally. He played his role of a power-tripping, but insecure teenager very well. He also just has the perfect face for that asshole guy character that everyone just hates. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing on his part, but it was definitely a good thing for this role.
Kaya Scodelario as Teresa.
EFFIE!!!!! I absolutely loved Kaya Scodelario in Skins, and was very excited to see her in another role – as I have never seen her play anyone who wasn’t Effie Stonem from the hit British television series. She was great in this. I was especially impressed at her ability to adapt to the American accent, and hide her British twang. I didn’t hear her natural accent come out at all throughout the film. She’s also just another one of those actresses that seems so natural all the time. As pretty much the only female in this film, she held her own amongst the pack of boys, and I applaud her for that.
The lack of romance.
This seems kind of a weird thing to say, and I do admit, I love watching some good onscreen romance – but I thought it was really nice that there wasn’t really a romance subplot in this. There was a lot of potential between one with Thomas and Teresa (and I’m guessing this will eventually happen in the next few instalments), but it was really nice that at least in this first film, these two remained as supportive friends, and the plot didn’t revolve around love.
WHAT I WAS ON THE FENCE ABOUT.
The overall story.
I think the most important thing about these teen dystopian films is definitely the plot itself. Especially since the novels aren’t always the most “well-written” or articulate, it’s really the plot that intrigues readers to keep on reading. In this case, I liked the overall idea, and story – although I must say, I am getting quite tired of the “they put us here, but we don’t know who they are and why they did it” type thing. I’m looking forward to the person who re-structures the overall concept of dystopian narratives, and ventures off the path of the invincible “higher power” model.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE.
The editing of action sequences.
I usually LOVE action sequences – and really appreciate the technique in the ways they can be edited. One thing I absolutely hate is when cuts are so fast and disorienting that I have no idea what is happening. Unfortunately, that was the case here. In any of the action sequences, literally all I could make out from the screen were quick, choppy cuts of… movement. That’s it. I have no idea what happened in those griever chase scenes, and it’s a shame, because I always love watching a good chase scene.
So yeah, this was a pretty solid watch. However, I don’t think I’ll be starting the books – I just don’t feel intrigued enough. I am however, looking forward to the rest of the films to come in this series, and who knows, maybe I’ll start reading these the next time I actually have free time/energy to read…
just my rating: ★★★½
Other reviews on The Maze Runner (2014)
LadyLaurenHutch – The Maze Runner – A Review. Bring on Phase Two!
Jonathon Wilson – The Maze Runner
Between the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – The Maze Runner vs. PhD Student