Before this movie came out I had never heard of The Maze Runner, so I haven’t read any of the books. The trailer seemed interesting, but I was genuinely skeptical with the whole “young adult novel adaptation” thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I read and loved some young adult novels (The Giver, The Perks of Being A Wallflower) buuuuuut that was back when I was a young adult, so I just wasn’t sure about this whole thing.
As I’ve said, Cube has always been a movie that really stuck with me. But as much as I love it, Cube has serious problems in that it does not seem to have a handle on its own world. In Cube, people wake up in a cube with no idea how they got there, who put them there, or how to get out. But as a viewer, you don’t really get the sense that there are answers, that there’s anything to figure out or discover – and the ending of the movie proves that.
The Maze Runner does something about that. It starts with a cold open of a teenage boy waking up in some kind of elevator/cage. Just as he thinks the elevator is going to reach the top and crush him, doors above him open and he finds a group of boys staring down at him, sort of chuckling. The boy is Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and he has no memory beyond waking up in the elevator – even his name takes time to return to him. He and the other boys all woke up in the same situation – in an elevator with no memory, placed in what the boys call The Glade, a forest-y piece of land surrounded by incredibly high stone walls, which in turn is surrounded by an elaborate, ever-changing maze. All of the boys are trapped there and no one knows who put them there, why they’re there, or how to get out.
One of the most interesting things about Maze Runner is everyone in question is a child; it doesn’t seem like anyone is older than a teenager. That poses an interesting problem: how do you rally scared children to defeat an obstacle they don’t even know exists? From almost the moment he arrives, Thomas pushes back against the status quo the boys have created for themselves. The boys have established a certain amount of order and peace and seem fairly content with just making life work in The Glade. On the one hand, I can’t blame them; they’re literally frightened children. But on the other hand, it’s hard not to side with Thomas, who is constantly questioning what’s happening and wants to get out. I think if the boys had been adults it would have felt way weirder for everyone to just be cool with living in The Glade forever.
I had never seen Dylan O’Brien before this movie and I have to say I was completely drawn to him. Even though he’s almost 10 years older than Thomas is supposed to be (at 16), he immediately struck me as a teenager from the get-go. All of his reactions felt extremely natural, even in situations where you don’t even know what a natural reaction would be. One of my favorite elements of Thomas was how often he says “shit.” He never says any other curse word, but does say “shit” a whole lot. It’s a small thing but made him feel so much more like a real 16 year old to me.
But overall, by far the biggest triumph of The Maze Runner was its own understanding of its own world. Not once did I get the feeling that this was all bullshit, that there wasn’t anything beyond the maze, or that Thomas wasn’t exactly the way he was presented to us. And that’s the beauty of having your main character’s memories start the moment the movie starts; one of the boys points out that it doesn’t matter who Thomas was before the maze, because that person is gone. So while we may find out things about Thomas we may not have known, Thomas didn’t know about them either, so there’s no fear of our hero secretly being evil or anything other than what we know.
We watched this the day after we saw Crimson Peak and it was infinitely more terrifying. I could say so much more, but I would have to go so deep into the plot that I would honestly rather just recommend everyone watch this. I was skeptical, but holy shit was this amazing.
I suggested we watch this just cause it was on HBO GO and I heard it wasn’t the worst. Maybe ten minutes in? I was hoooooked. This movie is fun as shit! Maybe it was because I wasn’t expecting anything but I was super into the world that was created in this movie. There is a lot of mystery but they also give you enough so that you just ask more questions. It kind of reminds me of Lost/The Leftovers in the way that I just want to know everything that’s going on and even if I only find out a tenth of it, I’ll still be satisfied.
I couldn’t stand one character, this little chubby kid who I think might be the worst actor I have seen in a film in a while, but other than that this movie is gold. I enjoyed watching this more than the Hunger Games films.