The Maze Runner is rather like the Hunger Games and Divergent series as it’s another ‘Young Adult’ tale set in a dystopian future.
Out of nowhere, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up and finds himself hurtling up a makeshift elevator, towards The Glade, with no memory of how he got there, in a place filled with other young men where, every month “the box”, a sort-of supplies cabinet giving them everything they need, provides the goods but they still have to grow their own food and build their own shelter, but the other thing it gives them is a new ‘greenie’, i.e. recruit. In the three years this has been going on, they’ve found no escape, unless you can run through the dastardly maze and find one that way…
Those who run through the maze are, as you’d expect, the maze runners and are the strongest and fastest out of this bunch, trying to plot a path to escape, and making it back before the doors close. It’s not easy, however, as the maze changes every night, overnight, and if you’d not back before closing time, then there’s a load of grizzly things out there to do you harm, chiefly The Grievers, something which no-one has ever lived to see AND tell the tale.
By day they’re led by Alby (Aml Ameen) – the first one to arrive, and by night, headstrong Gally (Will Poulter) seems to enjoy putting others in a sumo ring and seeing who can beat up each other the best.
As Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) says, “We’re all in this together”. I hope he doesn’t mean in a David Cameron sense, where they’re not in it with us at all.
Occasionally, some of them get ‘stung’ and then go a bit mad, so it’s basically The Maze Runner‘s equivalent of turning into a zombie. Meanwhile, there’s weird images floating into Thomas’ mind, as some sort of flashback, and, then, what do you do on the day that The Box rises to the surface with the first ever girl… And it’s not going back down?
There’s a great piece where the maze starts going a bit ‘2012‘ as if it’s all falling apart, a la the Roland Emmerich film, but for me, the star of the show was the audio sound FX, as weird stuff happens within the maze (well, you didn’t think we’d only see the green and pleasant land outside, did you?), and while I don’t want to spoil what happens, it all feels rather “Alien 3” in its execution.
The Maze Runner is very much a Lord of the Flies-type scenario, but when its outcome is revealed, it does feel rather unsatisfying.
Naturally, you know you won’t get a complete resolution to this film because, beyond it, two sequels have already been released in book form – The Scorch Trials (due for release in cinemas on September 18th this year) and The Death Cure, plus a prequel, The Kill Order. Another prequel, The Fever Code, is due out in 2016. Expect all of these to be turned into films as long as more young adults keep going to see them.
Personally, I haven’t read the books, so while I’ll look forward to see what the sequel brings, I can watch it without having any of the plot spoiled for me in paper form.
Go to page 2 for my thoughts on 20th Century Fox’s self-imposed censorship of this film.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.