Movie Review: “The Maze Runner” – Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

Written by Caitlin Cooper October 09, 2014

the maze runner

If recent books and films are any indication, our future is looking pretty bleak. Our options include: zombies, the earth dying, viruses, cruel games, factions, and now a maze. A virus, pollution, political tyranny, control of the masses. Imagine waking up in a dark elevator unable to even recall your own name. The elevator begins to move with increasing speed and you’re not sure if it’ll stop before it reaches the top. But it does. Then the top is opened and heads peek over. They know more than you do. You’re new. You don’t know about the maze and what horrors lie inside. All you know is that you want out.

“The Maze Runner” follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) from the moment he wakes in the elevator. We know just as much as he does, and we’re as curious as him about the maze. Thomas is now a part of a community of boys that follow strict rules in order to stay alive. Only the maze runners have been beyond the glade, only the maze runners have the chance to find a way out of this place they’ve been taken. All of the boys have given up on ever leaving. Thomas, however, is determined he won’t be there long.

“You’re not going to run again, are you?”

For a film that raked in over $32 million its opening weekend, you expect big things. “The Maze Runner” had a built-in audience with fans of the book series; studios love knowing that a big audience turn out can be expected.On the bright side, adapting films for the big screen gives readers the chance to enjoy their favourite books in a new way. The hope is that all of the fan excitement will convince others to take a chance on a plot that’s pretty risky. And that’s the thing about “The Maze Runner”. Sure, the trailer gives us an intriguing premise full of suspense, action, and mystery. The actual film, however, struggles to hold together a plot that doesn’t seem logical. So young people are put outside of a maze with no memory and are expected to…what? Find the exit within the maze? All I could think of was, “why?” What’s the point of the maze? Don’t expect answers until the last 10-15 minutes. Even then, we find out that the answers given to the characters are a lie crafted by the creators of the maze.

the maze runner

The pacing of “The Maze Runner” is pretty slow. Instead of relying on action scenes as the trailer might suggest, it relies on suspense. Thomas asks the same questions we do: how do they get out; why are they there? He seems to be the only one really doing anything. The community is kind of like “Lord of the Flies” but less barbaric. It’s almost peaceful aside from those stung by the grievers who become infected and violent, and the growing tension between Thomas and Gally (Will Poulter). The plot is interesting, but like the attempts to escape the maze, it’s pretty slow going. There are so many questions left unanswered. When they are answered, the reasons seem pretty lacking. If the motivation behind the maze and what these characters go through is weak, then the whole plot crumbles.

“It’s not a prison, it’s a test.”

Though it’s true that I wouldn’t exactly call “The Maze Runner” an action film, it does pick up in the last 30 minutes or so. The last scenes of the film see the most progress of the plot and the characters seem to become more dynamic. Tension reaches its peak, people die, and choices and bonds are made. If the whole film had this much movement it would have been much more entertaining.

the maze runner

The best thing “The Maze Runner” has going for it is its cast. O’Brien, best known as the goofy best friend on “Teen Wolf” shines as the lead. Here he’s given a chance to really show his talent. Emotional moments don’t seem cheesy, and one tragic moment near the end of the film stands out due to his acting. Ki Hong Lee plays Minho, one of the runners that Thomas teams up with. Blake Cooper plays Chuck, the funny and sweet boy who kind of becomes Thomas’ little brother. Poulter easily pulls off the bitter community leader. Thomas Brodie-Sangster, most recently seen in “Game of Thrones”, plays Newt. Brodie-Sangster’s acting is, as usual, really good. Kaya Scodelario plays Teresa, the only female to join the community. Together, the cast deliver good performances. It’s a shame the plot is underwhelming.

“What matters is who we are right now, what we do right now.”

Overall, “The Maze Runner” is one of those films that been hyped so much and yet has weak logic behind the plot’s mystery. The best scenes of the film are basically all within the last 30 minutes or so. The acting is well done, but it’s not enough to make the film stand out.

My Rating: 5/10

the maze runner

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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