September 30, 2014

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

If there is one genre I am beginning to grow weary of, it is the Young Adult Dystopian Future Novel Adaptations. All right, maybe that isn't a genre, but I think you get what I am getting at. I have not seen all of them, but lately it seems I have not been picking them all that well. It seems that outside of the Hunger Games films, they just don't work for me. One of the recent releases I took in turned out to be a disaster of blandness, that being The Giver. Well, for some reason I decided to brave the darkened theater and went to see The Maze Runner. I left thinking I had made a decent choice; however, the more I think about it, the more I realize it was another bad decision.

The Maze Runner was directed by Wes Ball, making his feature directorial debut. He actually does a decent job keeping the action moving and keeping all of the pieces in place. It is this that actually lulled me into a little bit of complacency. You see, the movie keeps moving and this perpetual movement forward will keep you caught in the moment, not realizing, at least not right away, that plot and logic have taken something of a leave of absence.

I have read a little about some of the logic gaps and just gaps in storytelling and most of the responses boil down to either “read the books” or “it is revealed in the second/third/prequel books.” All right, I will buy a little bit of that, if you are definitely building towards something, you don't want to give it all away up front. With that said, it is advisable to give a little bit of something interesting during your first movie, otherwise you end up with this. The Maze Runner is essentially a preamble to the real story, where the plot is hinted at in the final moments of the movie. You have about 100-minutes of stuff happening and moving around with about 10-minutes of actual story that throws most of what preceded it into question. It feels a little sloppy.

All right, let's back up a little bit. The Maze Runner is based on the novel of the same name by James Dashnell (who has a quick cameo at the end). It feels a lot like Lord of the Flies, if Lord of the Flies was actually a controlled test being played out by the older establishment, with players added to the mix at a regular interval. So, we spend a lot of time learning the rules that boys have made, and we learn about the maze and how no one can go into the maze, except the runners.

I don't know. The whole thing feels a little convenient, from the way memories are recovered, to who was behind a certain characters arrival, the lack of real advancement in three years, to the convenience and speed with which the new arrival finds a way out. Then there is the reveal at the end that really doesn't make a lot of sense and just takes any context and throws it out the window. Sure, you can cry all you want about future explanations and such, but this is just bad writing disguised in a fast pace.

At this point, the finer details are slipping away. What I will say is that while the writing was weak, I did not hate the movie. Again, the pace kept me involved, I actually liked some of the characters, and despite the silliness, it was a little bit of fun. Nothing to get all excited and crazy about, but there are much worse movies to watch.

Mildly Recommended.

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