Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario
Release Date (US): 19th September, 2014
Company: 20th Century Fox
“I can’t remember anything. Why can’t I remember anything?” – Thomas
The Maze Runner is the feature-film debut of visual effects artist, Wes Ball. Adapted from a the young adult novel by James Dashner, the movie focuses on a group of adolescent boys, trapped in the centre of a gargantuan maze. Dylan O’Brien (The Internship) stars as Thomas, the latest arrival to the group, who, like the others, has no memory of his past, or who put him there. Desperately searching for answers, Thomas galvanises the other boys in their efforts to escape from the maze – and the mysterious creatures that inhabit it…
Young-adult adaptations are almost as common as superhero movies at the moment. Although possibly influenced by other successful series, thankfully, The Maze Runner‘s premise feels fresh throughout. The story’s dark and sombre tone is refreshing, while a lot of time is spent on character development and world-building, as Ball successfully sculpts this harsh, dystopian reality that only slightly reeks of a Hunger Games rip-off.
That’s not to say this movie is void of action. The Maze Runner paces itself well, building up tension and fear, in anticipation of a thrilling finale. The end product is, however, a little incomplete – despite the admirable efforts to create well-rounded characters. There’s a case that the final third never quite lives up to the rest of the film, but, unlike Divergent, the film’s quality take a nosedive in favour of a big, forgettable blockbuster blowout.
“I don’t know if he’s brave or stupid, but I say we need more of it.” – Miho
Easily both the most impressive and surprising element of this film was the acting on display. Wes Ball assembles a fine cast of young talent, expertly spearheaded by Dylan O’Brien. Never overawed by the occasion, O’Brien carries himself well, showing real acting chops in a pivotal role that defines the rest of the movie. He also shows good chemistry with Kaya Scodelario (Skins)’s Teresa – who herself is never stereotyped as ‘the love interest’, but still perhaps could have done with a little more characterisation.
The supporting cast is equally impressive, with both Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually) and Will Poulter (Son Of Rambow) delivering on their early potential as former child stars. Poulter is particularly strong, dominating the screen whenever he’s on camera. The cast’s diversity is also commendable, with Ki Hong Lee (MotherLover)’s Minho standing out as one of the few Asian heroes in a Hollywood film. Dexter Darden (Joyfull Noise) is another real find, showing maturity as the boys’ leader, Alby.
Direction & Tone
First time directors on blockbuster movies are always hit and miss – with the latter result arguably more common. It’s therefore quite impressive, then, the manner in which Wes Ball manages to deliver such a solid freshman feature. Balancing action and thrills with tone and story, Ball acquits himself well in the director’s chair, making him one to watch for the future. The visual effects aren’t half bad either. The maze itself looks stunning.
- I reckon the sequel this movie is so obviously building up towards should just focus around a second maze, this time made out of maize. That’s right, ladies and gentleman I give you: The Maize Runner – hitting cinemas 2015!
- Seriously, the one thing all of these young adult movies seem to be suffering from at the moment is intense sequel-baiting. Don’t producers realise the first movie’s gotta be good in the first place for people to want to see another?
- The lack of love triangles and/or awkward romantic set-ups upon Kaya Scodelario’s character’s introduction in this movie was greatly appreciated. Well whaddya know, the young adult genre aint that bad after all!
- ^That should be the tagline of this movie.
- Sadly this movie is not the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. We’ll have to wait at least another fifty years for that silly.
The Maze Runner is a well-executed, well-acted young adult thriller, focused around an intriguingly enigmatic premise. While it never quite hits top gear, the visuals are ever-impressive, and the story never feels dull. Bring on the Scorch Trials.
Result: “Quite Good”