Let me clear this up for you right now – if you’re anything like me, you’re hugely disappointed by the news that nowhere in The Maze Runner does David Bowie sing to a bunch of Goblins – even though the Maze does keep changing.
The Maze Runner is one of many young-adult, science-fiction, post-apocalyptic books to be made into movies recently. This particular book was first published in October of 2007, with the sequels The Scorch Trials and the Death Cure coming in 2010 and 2011. There is also a prequel book – The Kill Order.
From what I can tell, the movie seems to stick to the book pretty closely – but I haven’t read it. A boy enters a pleasant field surrounded by woods then walls through a box on an elevator. He joins many other boys, all living in this “Glade”. The box brings up a new boy every month, along with supplies, which has been going on for three years. The boy gradually remembers his name, but nothing else, and is given a job to do so that the community can continue on. Thomas learns from Alby – the leader, that the Glade is surrounded by tall walls, with large doors that open every morning. Runners go into the doors every day, to map the maze that lies beyond. Thomas is immediately curious about the maze, and wants to be a Runner, but Gally – the Enforcer type, Minho – the head Runner, Newt – second in command, Alby, and Chuck (I don’t know what Chuck’s job is) all warn him against it. Thomas begins to acclimate, but shortly after he had arrived, a girl comes up in the box for the first time with a note that says “She is the last one ever”, implying that there is no more box, no more people, and no more supplies.
The next day, Alby decides to go into the maze with Minho and is stung by a “Greiver”, some sort of monster that lives in the maze. As Minho is carrying him back, the doors begin to close for the night, and Thomas runs in to help Minho with Alby. Minho runs, but Thomas hides Alby and lures a Greiver to its death. Incidentally – if I was asked to describe a Greiver – I would have to say it looks like a bio-engineered slug, the size of a Bear, with teeth like a moray eel and slime like an Alien Xenomorph. Grafted onto the slug part seemed to be four (or maybe six?) mechanical legs that operate similar to a spider’s legs. Does that help? No? Well, the CGI is average, and they move really fast, so it’s tough to say.
In any case, Minho is impressed, and he and Thomas drag Alby out of the maze in the morning. The girl, Theresa, realizes she came up from the box with two syringes of something in her pocket. They use one to cure Alby – who then remembers everything, but the everything he remembers implies that a lot of this is Thomas’s fault. Thomas then wants to examine the dead Greiver – which is really logical, even though Gally is against it. Four others join him, and they succeed in pulling out a large battery-type mechanical object from the center of the dead Greiver, basically it’s a cylinder with a number on it. Minho explains that parts of the maze are numbered, and this must be the Griever from area 7. He and Thomas then run the maze all the way to the back end of area 7, and the battery thing acts like a key to open a door. Excited, they head back out – but apparently, they pissed someone off, because that evening – all four doors open, and the Greivers come into the Glade. They wipe out a whole bunch of boys, including Alby. Thomas needs answers, and stings himself with a leftover Griever tail so that they can use the cure on him and he can remember. Honestly – I couldn’t begin to tell you what he remembered – it made no sense. Apparently he and Theresa work for a company that put the boys there as part of a test? In any case, he decides to take anyone who wants to go out through the maze. Gally makes a lame attempt to stop them, but the majority of them go and make it through after battling a bunch of Greivers. They find the exit, into a lab, where they watch a video that sort-of explains things (the sun is scorching the earth – we needed to see who could survive in extreme circumstances), then Gally shows up (how did he get past the Grievers alone?) and shoots Chuck by accident. Then they are ‘rescued’ by some helicopter dudes, and they get to see the maze from the air.
If that sounds confusing – you are correct. The execution is pretty good, and the direction is not bad. Wes Ball is the director and this and the sequel are the first major movies he has done. He previously was the art director on a lot of Star Trek episodes. Cast-wise, there are not that many familiar faces.
- Dylan O’Brien plays Thomas, and does a decent job, mainly of running and encouraging.
- Aml Ameen is an English actor who plays Alby – he’s stoic and brave, until he gets stung. Then he’s angry and upset.
- Ki Hong Lee plays Minho – and he’s annoyed the front half, then supportive to Thomas the second. Also- for the head Runner, he has a weird running style.
- Blake Cooper plays Chuck – don’t get too attached to him, but you knew that already, since he is the one who bonds with Thomas the most.
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster (who plays the weird kid from Game of Thrones who insists that Bran search for the crow with the third eye) plays Newt, the second in command. He seems way too scrawny to be anyone’s second in command, but Alby must know what he’s doing.
- Will Poulter is another English actor who plays Gally – he was just in We’re the Millers, and has amazing eyebrows. He does a pretty good job in this.
- Dexter Darden from Joyful Noise plays Frypan, he helps support Thomas when he needs it.
- Kaya Scodelario plays Teresa – and again, she shows up just to cause trouble. I did enjoy how her first plan of action was to climb a tower and throw stuff at the boys, causing Chuck to say, “Girls are awesome.”
- Patricia Clarkson has basically a cameo as the doctor who provides the explanation at the end –which just made me more confused.
Overall, I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t not enjoy it either. It just was. The parts that I found interesting – the box, the note that Teresa had – the layout of the maze, didn’t really seem to get developed as much as I wanted, but who knows, maybe they will in the sequel. Also – the parts that seem to get hammered home probably mean more if you are a fan of the books – “Rule 1 – everyone does their part”, “Wicked is Good”, etc.
6 out of 10 – Gained points for Poulter’s eyebrows. Lost points for the Greiver design and effects. Gained points for the daring escape, but lost points when the seemed to escape into the desert from Resident Evil 3. It does stand to reason that the corporation involved was Umbrella. Good luck with the Zombies!
Bonus Video 1. Rent Solarbabies again – it’s similar enough, plus it has Jason Patrick and Jami Gertz.
Bonus Video 2: Labyrinth – because really, this is the best Maze movie ever.
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews.