Review of 'The Maze Runner'

1st film in the 'Maze Runner' series

the_maze_runner.jpg Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes to find himself in an ascending cage elevator that eventually stops in the middle of a glade surrounded by tall walls. He is met by a group of boys calling themselves “Gladers” and led by Alby (Ami Ameen), who has been there longest. No one can remember anything about their previous lives except their names. Each day the wall opens which allows a group called the “maze runners” to explore the maze beyond to see if they can find an exit but, after three years, they have been unsuccessful. Thomas is intrigued and rushes into the maze as the doors shut at night when he sees Minho (Ki Hong Lee) attempting to rescue an injured Alby. Trapped in the maze they are attacked by “Grievers” - spider like animal/machine hybrids but manage to survive the night. The next day the elevator returns a final time to the glade bearing a young girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) who seems to know Thomas. Just who is Thomas and what does he know of the insane experiment they find themselves in and, crucially, will they escape alive?

I think the best of the three Maze Runner films with the mystery of what is going on still very new and interesting. We experience events first hand through the eyes of someone who is trying to figure things out just as we are. The idea is a great one and is certainly enough to keep us interested with, thankfully, not a huge amount of violence though certainly a lot of “lord of the flies” drama as the boys jostle with each other to decide the group's direction: Thomas is all for pushing the limits of their incarceration while the violent and argumentative Gally (Will Poulter) is all for playing it safe. You can guess which way the film goes. The plot is not terribly complicated but here it is all about the mystery of what is going on and why the boys are here in the first place, it is this mystery that drives the entire franchise. It does seem a bit exposition-heavy which slows the film down somewhat but there is a lot to be explained.

There is some reasonable acting here from the young cast with O'Brien, key the entire 3-film series, particularly good as a young leader struggling to free those in his care. Most of the roles are fairly one-dimensional but they are played well. There is the risk that you might end up with a bunch of whining from a bunch of young men as we have here but there is none of that with the characters very grounded and, generally, practical which gets away from film series like “Twilight” that get hung up in teenage angst.

The special effects are crucial the film and they work perfectly well though are not, perhaps, as spectacular as you might expect though the Grievers are quite nasty looking they seem to lack the ability to find and kill their young, slower moving, targets. But, hey-ho.

An entertaining film with an interesting premise and the best of the three Maze Runner films.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-05-21

Directed by: Wes Ball

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

Year: 2014

Length: 113 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films in the 'Maze Runner' series:

Other reviewed films by Wes Ball: