Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mini movie review: The Maze Runner

Here's another post-apocalyptic dystopian YA novel-turned-movie for you, along the lines of The Hunger Games except there's no love triangle (no love interest at all - amazing!) and no one emerging with Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss charisma.  I don't know how much of that is due to the source material, however: THG books are so strong; I don't know anything about The Maze Runner series by James Dashner. Still, TMR is a decent little movie, even if it fizzles out towards the end.

Thomas (our hero) wakes up, retching and amnesiac, in a subterranean elevator as it rocks to the earth's surface.  Once above ground, he is met by a group of boys/young men who are trapped in a wooded glade surrounded by a shifting, murderous stone maze.  The boys have set up a nice little society in the three years they have been there: building living quarters, assigning jobs; following rules.  Thomas (who remembers his name but nothing else in a day or so) immediately starts questions things: who keeps sending boys to the surface once a month in that elevator?  Who were the boys before?  Where are they?  Who made the maze? And most importantly, how the hell do they get out of here?  Thomas earns a job as one of the titular maze runners: fast, brave and clever boys who go out into the Maze every day, memorizing its layout.  Within no time at all, Thomas has upset the status quo by surviving a night in the Maze, killing one of the giant, robotic/flesh spider monsters called greavers, and figuring out how to escape.  As expected, his actions shake up the fragile glade society.  But Thomas has sparked something in many of the other boys and they make a break for it.

None of the characters are all that deeply developed and the dialogue isn't anything to write home about.  But The Maze Runner is a passable entry into the genre, particularly since it isn't dragged down with the romance typically inserted in other YA science fiction.   The plot moves steadily forward; the named characters are distinguishable and relatable; the action, while depending overmuch on CGI (see above re: giant robot spider monsters), is decent, if a little confusing and dim sometimes.  My biggest issue is with the very ending where after keeping my attention for the run-time, the movie has no sort of resolution for its characters, instead going out on a "this story will be continued in the SEQUEL so no point in resolving anything NOW" note.  The Maze Runner did pique my interest enough to add the SEQUEL to my Netflix queue tho, so well-played, movie.

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