Movie: Maze Runner
My Rating: 3 stars
Well, this movie was kind of medium. I had read the books and found them moderately exciting. And, I figured with the amount of money being thrown at Young Adult fiction franchises these days, this would be another success. (Yes, I read YA fiction). But, it wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping for. And, it’s not because the movie didn’t have enough resources to work with. The cinematography, set design, and costumes look great. (Although there are a few CGI misfires along the way). But, there’s something tonally wrong about the way the story is presented. And, I think it has something to do with the way the movie depicts the passage of time.
The story is set around a young man, Thomas, who wakes up in the center courtyard of a huge maze with no memories of how he got there, or of his life before. A whole handful of young men are there too, and none of them has much more knowledge about their predicament than Thomas. They’ve managed to create a little life for themselves inside the maze—a working farm, construction projects, a (sometimes) functioning government. But, the boys do recognize that there’s something fundamentally sinister about having found themselves in such a prison. So, they’ve created the job of “Maze Runner.” These are guys who run out into the maze every day to try to map it, detect a pattern in the ever-changing layout, and hopefully find a way out. Although, we learn that they haven’t discovered much in the years they’ve been there. They know the layout of the maze, and have even learned the pattern. But they have no answers for why they are there. And, this leads to the main problem I had with the film.
This script just doesn’t do a very good job of letting the audience feel the slow passage of time and the uncertainty of the situation. The book did a great job of conjuring up the discomfort of living so long in uncertain conditions. The boys know that their situation is bad. And, they’ve been trying to solve the puzzle of their imprisonment. But, several years into the experience, still nothing has happened. It’s like waiting for a friend to arrive. If you knew the exact time they’d show up, those twenty minutes would be a breeze to sit though. But, not knowing puts the waiting party on edge. I know this movie needed to fit its story into a standard, feature-length, 90-minute format. But, the story’s pacing was just too quick to create that discomfort. Major plot points happened too fast, and too regularly. So, this movie loses much of the mystery of the novels.
All this being said, I still would have watched it had I known. I love a good post-apocalyptic drama, so my standards are a little lower than usual when it comes to that kind of story. And, had I not read this book series, I probably would have enjoyed the movie without much fuss. But, whenever I have source material to compare a movie too, it almost never ends well. So, see this movie if you’re interested. It isn’t great. But it isn’t unpleasant. You might even find it a little exciting if you’re a twelve-year-old-girl. But you probably don’t need to go out of your way.