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Film Review: 'Maze Runner'

Mia Galuppo |
September 21, 2014 | 9:32 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

When watching an adaptation of a bestselling book into a feature film, at the end of the movie the lights will come up in the theatre and you almost certainly here a collective disgruntled mumble that “the book was soooooooo much better than the movie.” 

Well I heard no such dissatisfied drones at the end of "Maze Runner," likely because I was one of seven people in the theatre, but also because this movie was undoubtedly better than the book. The changes from the book are subtle, adding nuance and complexity and covering up all those pesky plot holes. Simply put: The movie was the book that I wished the book could have been. 

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Maze Runner begins with Thomas ("Teen Wolf’s" Dylan O’Brien) waking up in an elevator, unsure of where/who he is and how the hell he got in an elevator. Thomas is upwardly delivered to “The Glade,” a community of young men who took a similar trip in an elevator and have since banded together to form a community, while looking for a way out. Tall concrete walls surround the Glade, and "the gladers" believe their way out is through the giant maze that lies beyond the walls; “runners” are sent into the maze to scout for an exit. 

The action scenes that take place within the maze are incredible, benefiting largely from a stark environment, with a clean design. Maze Runner provides action sequences that are complex but easy to follow, which is often not the case with CGI-heavy movies. This summer’s "Transformers 4’s" fight scenes between giant robots and giant robot dinosaurs are impossible to watch, being that they are just a giant mosh of nameless metal grinding against each other until something explodes.  

Also of note is the design of “the grievers,” strange mechanical/organic slug-scorpions that inhabit the maze. I realize that the concept sounds ridiculous but the execution proves pretty terrifying.  

Within an incredibly realized, tactile environment, the maze proves to be the most interesting and complex character. O’brien and the rest of the young men are essentially interchangable, barely skimping by on whatever small amount of character will move the plot forward. The one stand-out performance came from Will Poulter, whose seemingly stereotypical villain, Gally, proved multifaceted. Likely afflicted with some form of Stockholm syndrome and PTSD, Gally became a sympathetic antagonist to O’brien’s stock-in-trade hero, proving to be one of the better villains I have seen in a blockbuster-type movie as of late. 

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In all fairness, there was not a lot of time to develop character; this movie ran a cool hour and forty with some change. A brilliant move on the filmmakers’ part, "Maze Runner" never overstays its welcome and gets out right when it needs to. Unfortunately, where the movie decides to get out is wholly unsatisfying. 

This movie was so close to bucking a sequel-bait ending but, like me deciding to chemically crimp my hair in the 5th grade, it succumbed the dominant trend of its time. Like so many movies this summer, this year—"Transformers 4": Revenge of the CGI, "X-Men": Days of Future Past, "Captain America": Chris Evans is Pretty Confused," even "Guardians of the Galaxy" with the beloved Chris Pratt, all had endings that served almost solely to set-up another movie.

"Maze Runner," despite being an overall engaging movie, will, sadly, leave you with a bad taste of sequel in your mouth.

Reach Staff Reporter Mia Galuppo here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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