It’s been a while since I’ve done a full-blown movie review! I thought I’d start back up again with a review of the new movie, The Maze Runner. First, a short introduction to the story (I won’t give away anything that isn’t shown in the trailer):
The Maze Runner follows the story of a group of teenage boys who are trapped inside a glade, surrounded on every side by high stone walls. Each morning a door in the walls open, allowing entrance into what turns out to be a massive maze. A handful of boys explore the maze each day, trying to find a way out. However, if evening falls and the doors close, whoever is left inside the maze is almost certain to die. As the newest member of the Gladers, Thomas is more desperate than any of the others to find a way out of the maze and to get to the bottom of why they were put there in the first place.
I don’t know if I’ve ever said this about any other movie, but The Maze Runner was a great film, with a story line that was mediocre at best. Usually the story line completely drives a movie, and if the story is weak so is the movie. Being an avid story-teller and story-lover, I’m usually a pretty sharp critic in this area. But for this movie I’d have to make an exception. The acting was so good. The music was so good. The editing, pace and building tension was put together masterfully. The action sequences were some of the most intense, stay-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-with-your-hand-clamped-over-your-mouth scenes I’ve ever watched. The character development was phenomenal, considering the amount of action that filled The Maze Runner. It was just a good movie.
Yet surprisingly, the story was fairly weak. There were lots of plot holes. The most glaring of which was definitely the ending. The last ten minutes of the movie, in which the reasoning behind the maze was explained, was so thoroughly disappointing that it nearly ruined the entire film. The explanation for the maze was juvenile, self-contradictory and completely nonsensical. Yet when the credits rolled, although I was bitterly disappointed with the ending, I was still so impressed with the rest of the movie that I could have watched it again right away. The violence also took away from the story to some extent. There was a pretty high body count, with lots of blood and (and even though it was only a monster, it was still gross) guts and people being sick. The last ten minutes were probably the worst, in my opinion. I ended up closing my eyes a few times when things got way over-the-top violent/gory. The movie would have been much better if the violence had been toned down a lot. There was a lot of strong language as well. Another hole that weakened the story was centered around the main character, Thomas. I didn’t read the book, but it seemed like the author of the story had intended Thomas to be drastically different from any other Glader before him. Many times, different characters would say, “You’re not like the others.” or “You’re different than any of us – you’re our only hope.” But Thomas had only been in the Glade for a little over 72 hours, and did not exhibit any unnatural curiosity, leadership or courage. Don’t get me wrong – he was an awesome character, a true hero and one of my new favorite movie characters. But he didn’t exhibit any signs of unusual leadership or heroism that the other characters seemed to make him out to be. It may not sound like that large of a plot hole, but it did really bother me.
That being said, Thomas was everything a hero should be. I can’t say enough good things about him! He was a natural leader; he was humble; he was honorable and noble; he was courageous and self-sacrificing. He would definitely fit into the “Quintessential Hero” category of the post I wrote about heroes a couple of months back. The actor who played him was fantastic. I’ve never seen him in anything before, but he’s certainly a new favorite of mine.
After Thomas, though, I can’t decide what character was my favorite! They were all so good – even, surprisingly, the antagonist. Gally (played by Will Poulter aka Eustace Clarence Scrubb) was teetering somewhere between a petty bully and a dangerous psychopath, yet I had so much sympathy for him. (And he did a great American accent!)
Newt was awesome. Nuff said. Apparently there’s this huge fan-girl base that goes absolutely bonkers over Thomas Brodie-Sangster. I didn’t understand it before, but now I can kind of understand why. He’s British, he looks like Peter Pan, he’s a great actor, and he’s just plain cool. Although he was by far the smallest and least-intimidating of the Gladers, he exuded an aura of authority and leadership.
Alby was the sort of wise-man, father-figure of the Gladers. I loved his character. He’s second from the left in the picture below.
Minho was probably the toughest character, and looked the most intimidating – I was very impressed with him.
But what I loved most about all of these characters is that they were much deeper than I’d expected. For an action movie, it was surprisingly character-driven. It reminded me of The Hunger Games, yet due to the characters, much more heroic. Where The Hunger Games fell flat on its face (in the area of self-sacrifice, loyalty and all-around decency) The Maze Runner shone. It was like watching a bunch of kids in the Arena, but they’re all working together and determining to protect the others instead of trying to kill each other. Much more satisfying, in my humble opinion.
There’s no doubt about it, though: The Maze Runner was definitely an action film. When all is said and done, it was an adrenaline-filled ride, but a fun ride at that. Although I can certainly understand why some people would be turned off by the over-the-top violence or the gaping plot holes, if you go into it with the right expectations it would be hard not to enjoy this movie. I don’t know that I would go see the second installment in the series, due to the turn the story took during the last section of the film, but I’m already looking forward to The Maze Runner coming out on Blu-ray so I can see it again!
Have any of you seen The Maze Runner? Do you plan to? Have you read the book? What did you think?