Around 2008-2010 all the people my age, teens and young adults, started on a craze of reading similar dystopian novels and series. There were countless ones: "The Hunger Games", "Divergent", "The Giver", "Ender's Game", etc. After "The Hunger Games" paved the way with huge success, we are now in the middle of the phase where all those books are being made into movies. "The Maze Runner" is an addition to that phase. Based on the novel by James Dashner, "The Maze Runner" is a film about a young man who suddenly wakes up in a strange place with no feasible mode of escape and no memory of who he is and how he got there. He gradually discovers more and more of the suspicious place he is forced to live in and the people he is forced to live with, and what chance he has of escaping the Maze with his life.
Dylan O'Brien takes on the role of Thomas, our protagonist and a person who is about as average as you can get. O'Brien wasn't given much of a character to work with at the start, but he put little extra into this role which honestly made him rather boring to watch. Practically all the other characters in this film played the same way. Will Poulter's performance is by far the most noteworthy and Blake Cooper's character of Chuck was the most interesting character in the screenplay, but every character was hard to get attached to. That may be mostly on the screenwriters, but when it comes to personality a lot of weight is put on the shoulders of the actors. And here, they just didn't deliver.
Ultimately, I think character development could have been the best choice to make this movie stand out. The story is set up where a large number of young men are thrown together, forced to live in an enclosed area. Freedom is not initially an option, so they have to learn to create a society and work together to survive. What I loved about this story is that this happened; they did work together and had peace before they tried to have freedom. This is an incredibly unique choice, so I wish it had been a major focus of the story. In order for that many young, hormone raging, teenage men to create such a society, many mature decisions had to be made by these characters, and we never got to see that happen. The Maze is cool, the action and killing giant robotic spiders was cool, but the coolest thing was these strong characters that were hidden behind the curtain for the whole movie.
Clearly, a choice by director Wes Ball was made about what his focus would be. After he decided to make the recipe young adult action flick instead of this "Lord of the Flies" type story, he needed to make some changes from the story in the book. A book can succeed in having two such different types of stories survive, but a movie is sadly not capable of such a feat. His changes needed to be on what he wanted to do with his characters, specifically Will Poulter's Gally and Kaya Scoledario's Teresa. Teresa's purpose in the film was entirely unclear to me, and whether or not Gally was going to be a villain or the unlikely hero was a mystery to me until the final five minutes of the movie. Poulter really gave a good performance in this film, and Ball's poor character choices made that completely irrelevant. Had some decisions been made about what to do with the people on screen, the movie could have been much, much better.
Perhaps the most impressive work done in this film was by Artistic Director Douglas Cumming. His visualization of the Maze and especially the Glade were superb and made the film both beautiful and mesmerizing. An intense score provided by John Paesano accompanied the film, which added to the awesomeness of the film's appearance. Some may suggest that Cumming's work was unoriginal, with many scenes appearing like other films. The film's main villains, robotic spiderlike creatures called Grievers, had an uncanny resemblance to the spider Shelob in "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." However, with similarly choreographed chase scenes and shots identical to "The Return of the King," I think the responsibility falls more again on director Wes Ball. The end of the film also provides us with an escape almost identical to 2005's "The Island," along with other unoriginal frames.
Overall, "The Maze Runner" was enjoyable. It had cool action scenes and was a really good idea for a story. As a young adult action flick, it meets the quota. It definitely doesn't go anywhere past that though. I just had a hard time getting into it because I didn't have reason to care about any of the characters. So as I walked out of the theater, I was ready for bed.
I give "The Maze Runner" a 7.510.
"The Maze Runner" is now showing at the Vermillion Coyote Twin.
Review by Jacob Ford from the Internet Movie Database.