The Buzz: The Maze Runner


Bernard Chen, Assistant News Editor

In the epic kick-off to what seems to be a new three-part movie franchise, “The Maze Runner,” a film adaptation of the first installment to James Dashner’s popular book series, leaves viewers wanting more but possibly with a bitter taste of discomfort.

“The Maze Runner” takes place in the dystopian post-apocalyptic world or, more specifically, inside a courtyard, the “Glade,” with a self-sustaining village of adolescent boys – “Gladers.” Surrounding the complex are high walls which only open during the day to reveal a perilous labyrinth outside.

The amnesiac boys are trapped within the confinements of the Glade, unable to find a way out. The key to the boys’ society, or so they claim, is their trust in one another and, especially, each role they play. Thus, one of the most important jobs is that of a Runner, boys who run the maze every day to construct a model of each section in an attempt to find an exit. The Runners are especially careful to return before sundown, when the walls close the Glade from the maze. In the event that a Glader does find himself trapped outside for the night, he will have an unlikely chance at survival with vicious, spider-like mechanical beasts patrolling the maze.

When Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), the protagonist, is brought up by a metal elevator from underground as part of a monthly ration to the existing Gladers, daily life is thrown into a frenzy as Thomas defies basic rules and then joins the Runner, Minho (Ki Hong Lee), in the quest to escape and ultimately find the creators of the maze.

Director Wes Ball cleverly produces an almost believable world in destruction. In itself, this is what has made previous movies and franchises, such as “The Hunger Games” trilogy, successful, where each sequel builds upon the last to finally leave the viewer in awe during the finale. This movie is no exception, leaving the audience with a giant cliffhanger of the coming “phase two” of the trilogy, “The Scorch Trials.”

However, apart from the recent teen fantasy thrillers, “The Maze Runner” contains no teenage romance/drama, as of yet. This allows for a more focused concentration on the environment and the very believable world Ball creates.

Still, the lack of character development in the movie undermines the quality of the overall movie. We don’t feel the connection between Thomas and the new girl, Theresa (Kaya Scodelario), nor do we feel attached to the lovable friendly kid Chuck (Blake Cooper) enough to fully experience his relationship with Thomas. This causes for a lack of feeling for the characters’ fates, especially when one falls victim to a griever or dies.

So how well does the movie hold up to its popular book counterpart? The movie does not cover as much of the book’s details as it could have, which may leave some readers disappointed. Yet, the beetle blades, blubbery grievers, maps of the glade, Theresa and Thomas’s telepathic powers, and the misspelling of the potential antagonists of the film (WCKD instead of WICKED) are necessary sacrifices to contain the basic plot within the exciting 113 minute runtime of the movie.

The mysterious ending is filled with suspense and surprises that will make anybody jump out of their seats. Although there is the lack of consistency between the book and the movie and a whole lot more questions to be answered, the movie is definitely a worthwhile trade for strong acting, suspense, and the incredible approach to the sci-fi apocalypse thriller realm.