The Maze Runner: Another dystopian film adventure


Dystopian film adaptations have taken the cinemas by storm for the past several years – brooding protagonists and all. The science-fiction thriller, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, is no different. Directed by Wes Ball, this action thriller is a mashup of gorgeous cinematography, disturbing spider-like creatures called Grievers, and notable acting coming from the main protagonist, later identified as Thomas (played by the talented Dylan O’Brien). From The Hunger Games (2012) to The Giver (2014), fans from all over the globe have been exposed to different forms of apocalyptic futures.

“Welcome to the Glade,” the teenage boys chant to the newest member of their ragtag team comparable to that of Lord of the Flies. The boys, inhabiting the field they call the Glade, aren’t sure why they are there or how they got there, but survive nonetheless. Some of the boys have shown alpha-like qualities and are appointed to finding an escape from the Glade in a stone maze that changes every night. Of course when Thomas arrives, it seems that he is the answer to all their questions and the source for the audience’s confusion.

For a 156-minute film, nothing truly happens until the last quarter of the film. By then, the popcorn is left to kernels, the soda is flat, and the stickiness of your shoes from the theater floors is driving you insane. The climax of the story, in which Thomas finally enters the maze, is the only nail-biting scene. Before, there is no explanation, no character development, and such lazy writing that even the talented actors couldn’t pull it off.

The only character who seems somewhat in charge of his own future is the last offering to the Glade, Theresa (Kaya Scodelario). Scodelario gives an impressive performance with the few lines she was given, and mixed with O’Brien’s solemn persona, the two were a dynamic team.

One thing that set this movie apart from other dystopian tales is the lack of romance. Theresa and Thomas are shown as colleagues, a platonic couple who aren’t vying for each other’s attention. There is no love triangle, and for that The Maze Runner gets one gold star.

“Everything’s gone wrong the minute you showed up.” Sound familiar? Seems that the different variations of the sentence seem to peek through in every adolescent tale of angst and government corruption. Some tropes are always present in the genre of science-fiction. Spunky, preteen characters will only bring on sadness and despair, a bully can only be an antagonist until the last five minutes of the film, and defying the government can only happen when you band together and realize that the true evil lies in the adults.

Though the scenes that are made to cause heartache are bleak, the ones to motivate are grey in comparison to the competition in other films. Accompanied with visually stunning shots from the cameraman, there’s a tugging feeling of being impressed, to just being frustrated with the poor pacing.

Overall, the movie evokes ambiguous emotions and a feeling of annoyance – by the rolling of the credits, just flat-out disappointment.

For those who have read the books: 4/10 (major things changed in the film and reading experience ruined).

For those who haven’t: 6/10 (great acting, beautiful scenery, baffling plot).