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.
I’ve seen the uncut version and didn’t notice anything that would differentiate between a 12-cert and 15-cert. There were quite a number of scaryish moments, but any violence and death scenes were very quick indeed. The BBFC states (and I’ll enclose this in a spoiler section):
Alas, as I’ve already indicated in the title, this Blu-ray (and the DVD) have been censored. 20th Century Fox really need to have a word with themselves because they are killing the cinema experience for their films and, with this, the home viewing experience too.
With films such as A Good Day To Die Hard, Kingsman: The Secret Service and all three Taken films, they have all had their certificate lowered a stage for the cinema by having edits made to them. In each case, an uncut version was available, as rated by the BBFC, and in the cases of the Bruce Willis film, plus Taken and Taken 2, they have all been released uncut on Blu-ray, with the Taken films also uncut on DVD, while Die Hard 5 was still cut on DVD. Hence, I was at least expecting The Maze Runner to be uncut on Blu-ray. But it isn’t. Just what are Fox playing at? They also allowed Ben Stiller’s remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to be released at the cinema AND on Blu-ray and DVD as a censored PG-cert, when an uncut 12-cert was available. Given that children can go and see 12A films in the cinema anyway, why bother to censor it? I would love to have a meeting with the UK board of 20th Century Fox about all this!
In fact, Lions Gate also did the same for the first Hunger Games film, with it being cut to a 12-cert for cinema and DVD, the uncut version only being available on Blu-ray.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and it’s crisp and clear with no problems whatsoever, as you’d expect from a modern film. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV.
The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and is an absolute delight when sound FX come from all around the speakers, mostly with the maze changing, as well as a number of other ungodly noises.
The extras are as follows and are all in HD and subtitled:
- Deleted/extended Scenes (18:31): 9 of them here. I’d include the last one (and I won’t give spoilers here), but none of the rest need to be put back into the film. Each of them has optional director’s commentary.
- Navigating the Maze: The Making of The Maze Runner (42:29): Separated into five parts, including a look at the set design and location, the cast and the creation of the maze itself.
Clips from the film are interspersed with cast and crew members talking about it, as well as author James Dashner.
- Ruin (8:26): Showing in both 2D and 3D, the latter of which I watched, this is an exceptional short film from Wes Ball which he made ahead of this film and it clearly shows where he’s going with things, design-wise. Showing a bounty hunter being chased through a post-apocalyptic overgrown landscape, it was very reminiscent of The Last Of Us, so if they really do make a film out of that game (and, quite frankly, a TV series would be more suitable), then I think Wes Ball should have a hand in it!
- The Chuck Diaries (5:29): A brief entry from the shorty of the group. All the cast and crew loved working with him.
- Gag reel (6:43): aka plenty of outtakes.
- Visual Effects: With possible film spoilers in the dissection of this extra only, there’s the visual Effects Reel with optional director’s commentary (30:19), comparing what the actor saw with the finished result, for seven scenes including the elevator, the maze doors, a night in the maze, the maze rearranging itself, the Grievers attacking, the final fight scene and building the glade itself; plus the VFX Breakdown by Method Studios (3:44), which is briefly along similar lines.
- Trailer (1:50): In the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio.
- Gallery: 3 lots of galleries, from the director’s pictures of the glade (28 images), his favourite artwork and concept shots (37 images), and storyboards (I would count them but there’s too many to do so!)
- Audio description: describes the film in audio form. A lot of TV shows now do this as well. For the film, this is DD5.1 only, rather than 7.1 for the description-less main soundtrack.
- Audio commentary: with director Wes Ball and co-screenwriter T.S. Nowlin
So, there’s a wealth of fantastic extras here, and the video and audio presentation is faultless, but it’s difficult to recommend a purchase due to the censorship.
Chapters are a fantastic number, here, with 36 across the 113-minute running time. More of this, please, Fox!
The menu features clips from the film set to a piece of the theme, and although Fox have put some trailers before the main menu, they’ve made them thing entirely skippable. That’s a plus. Subtitles are available in English only, plus there’s also a stream available for the audio commentary track.
Running time: 113 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Video
Released: February 9th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 7.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English (audio commentary track)
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Digital Intermediate (4K) plus ARRIRAW (2.8K), CineForm RAW (2K) & Redcode RAW (5K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Wes Ball
Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Lee Stollman and Lindsay Williams
Screenplay: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin (based on the novel by James Dashner)
Music: John Paesano
Thomas: Dylan O’Brien
Alby: Aml Ameen
Minho: Ki Hong Lee
Chuck: Blake Cooper
Newt: Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Gally: Will Poulter
Frypan: Dexter Darden
Teresa: Kaya Scodelario
Ben: Chris Sheffield
Zart: Joe Adler
Winston: Alexander Flores
Jeff: Jacob Latimore
Clint: Randall D Cunningham
Ava Paige: Patricia Clarkson
Masked Man: Don McManus
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.
| 1 | 2 |