“You are not like the others, you are curious, but if you stay here you have to follow the rules.”
Wes Ball’s The Maze Runner didn’t stand out from all the other YA novel adaptations we’ve been bombarded with lately. Perhaps I went into it with high expectations considering it had a 63% rating according to critics on Rottentomatoes. I thought it was pretty high considering that this genre is getting tiresome, so I expected it would be a breathe of fresh air, but I was wrong because it follows basically the same conventions as all the other YA adaptations (a teen who doesn’t seem to fit into the role that society has put him in and ultimately becomes some sort of savior against a repressive system that seems to place them in a particular set of groups). These novels seem to repeat the same message: being different is good. I don’t have anything against these films (I actually am a fan of the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games franchises), but I feel like beginning new franchises with pretty similar premises is a major letdown. The Maze Runner tries to introduce an interesting and different premise, but the novelty wears down quickly and it ultimately becomes cliched. Most of the film is predictable despite trying to create new concepts, but the more you think about the plot the more holes you find. There are so many things about The Maze Runner that don’t make much sense and I just felt it tries to raise a lot of questions without giving us believable answers. The ending is the weakest part of this film and what ultimately brings it down. It basically unravels and deconstructs all the interesting premises (like having all these young characters isolated from the rest of the world) it set up at the beginning. I really can’t find anything appealing to the inevitable sequel, but will probably end up watching it anyway.
For a film that centers on a young and unfamiliar cast the performances work well. The special teen this time around is played by Dylan O’Brien and we know his character is going to be the chosen one from the get go. YA adaptations have become such a formula that you just can’t help it, you know he is going to be the savior. He still pulls off the role as the lead character delivering a solid and engaging performance. Will Poulter, who we saw in a comedic role in We’re the Millers, shows his range playing the antagonist, Gally. Other memorable characters in this film were Alby (Aml Ameen), Newt (Thomas Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Chuck (Blake Cooper), and the only female character in the Maze: Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). The rest were all simply included to be disposed with like most of the films in the genre do and there is very little recollection of any of them. The main cast in the film is solid and so are the special effects. The set design of the maze itself looks really cool and of course it is very symbolic of how teens feel at times trapped in maze without knowing what direction to head to next. I know a lot of people liked the monsters in this film (the grievers), but they didn’t really do anything for me. The Maze Runner tries to stand out from other YA adaptations, but it ends up being basically the same allegory of teens trapped in a restrictive system where the only way to survive is following the rules and playing your role in society. The few things I actually did enjoy about this film ended up being brought down by the unsatisfactory ending.