By Kaylee Brewster
But “The Maze Runner” doesn’t add much.
“The Maze Runner” starts with a teenage boy, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) who wakes up with no memory in a place where other boys are in the same boat. The community is surrounded by a maze and every day the “runners” go into the maze to find a way out. Every night the maze changes. No one survives a night in the maze. Our hero and the audience try to figure out just what the heck is going on.
The maze in “The Maze Runner” could be a metaphor for the story itself. It’s confusing, leading to some dead ends and some side trails. Some things are not explained in the full detail that they should, although I assume that differs from the book. It’s hard to tell a story when characters don’t know what’s going on, because that means the audience doesn’t either. And audiences who are left in the dark for a long time tend to get bored.
The main characters — Thomas, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Alby (Aml Ameen), Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Chuck (Blake Cooper) — are likable enough. When their lives are put in danger, which is often, there is a sense of urgency. Some of the acting also feels a little stilted and there is a lack of emotional connection to the audience.
The maze itself is stunning — massive, foreboding, dark and dangerous. Even without characters warning time and time again about the dangers, it’s clearly a place you don’t want to be. And it’s fun to see and hear the maze come to life, even if it’s not fun for the characters.
The cinematography has lots of point-of-view shots, which lets the audience see from Thomas’ perspective. It also uses a shaky camera, which lends the feeling that you are running away from danger along with the characters. However, the cinematography can be dark and makes it hard to see who and what is happening.
“The Maze Runner” is different from other YA book-to-film adaptations in some ways (kids aren’t actually killing each other) and the same in others (society is still torturing teens in some way). The movie also falls into some clichéd and repetitive lines. I lost count of how many times Thomas asked “What was that?” and someone answered “We call those … ”
If you like the recent trend of teenagers in weird, messed-up societies trying to survive on their own without their iPhones, then “The Maze Runner” is one to add to your list, even if it’s not the strongest addition.
If you’re kind of “meh” on the whole YA thing, then this film offers nothing for you and you should stick with “The Hunger Games.”
Brewster is a clerk for the Lewiston Tribune and a movie aficianado. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.