Movie Review: The Maze Runner (2014)

Maze Runner movie still

Intriguing premise keeps this teen-targeted film watchable for those who’re not too curious

WARNING: This review contains spoilers until the summary at the bottom.

Based on the young-adult novel of the same title by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is about a group of kids who’re placed in the centre of a humongous maze they call Glade, thus making the kids “Gladers”. Every month, each one of them is brought up there unconscious by a strange controlled elevator that comes with supplies and when they wake up, they’d remember nothing other than the language they speak, and eventually, their names, but only that. The Gladers who’ve been there for years came up with rules and jobs to survive and co-exist. The only hope that keeps them going are the Runners, who’re assigned to go into the maze every day and map it until they could find a way out one day. However, the thick doors of the maze only open in the morning, and closes when the sun goes down, and nobody ever survived a night in the maze as the “Grievers” lurk in the dark to hunt for their prey. Their venomous stings cause infected victims to lose control of their minds and become very dangerously aggressive.

In overall, a decent feature film debut for the new director Wes Ball although I don’t think he did anything to improve from the source material. It’s certainly not unwatchable and to be frank, I was actually truly intrigued during the first half of it until everything suddenly becomes too simple, familiar and underwhelming towards the end. It also should’ve been so much more fun as its premise is like a video game, but too bad there’s just not enough of exploring and thrilling within the maze, which practically defeats the purpose of its title. There’s no real impressive action or moment in the entire movie. The actors also weren’t given enough to work on with their roles. The development of the characters is very rushed, hence the weak emotional engagement.

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The real biggest problem of this film is its story’s inconsistencies and frustratingly vague explanations. So we have the protagonist, Thomas (decent performance by Dylan O’Brien), who’s apparently more curious, courageous and intelligent than all the other Gladers before him because, you know, he’s The Chosen One, or The Special One, whatever, the usual cliche, anyway, he goes asking reasonable questions about escaping from the Glade, like why not climb the walls of the maze instead of going through it? But to hasten the film, we get one answer that’s supposed to satisfy all our questions – “whatever you’re thinking, we’ve tried it all… twice.” But the ending does suggest that if they did climb the walls, they probably could’ve escaped a long time ago, or at least know where they are. And it’s not like those Grievers can climb very well, and ironically, they look like giant half-robot spiders! They’re like the most useless villains ever. In the film, they can be beaten or stalled with a little fire and kids with wooden sticks. And their objectives are uncertain, sometimes they sting the Gladers with the virus, and sometimes they just… tear them apart or eat them, I guess?

And then there’s this typical negative-ally-within-the-group character, Gally (played very well by Will Poulter from We’re the Millers), who’s supposed to be this big-sized senior who wants everyone to strictly abide by the rules, which gives Thomas a hard time to help them progress in escaping, and by their rule, the Gladers force all infected ones into the maze right before it closes for the night but then later Gally and the others seem okay to allow their infected leader, Alby (Alm Ameen), to be to saved from the maze and stay even though he’s infected. It’s like as though the writers were promoting favouritism along with the plot’s human manipulation theme. Also, some Hollywood race propaganda – the black guy’s the leader, the white guy’s the intelligent courageous hero, and the Asian dude’s a coward who needs to be led.

Maze Runner movie still meme

What I would’ve named the film: “The Special One & Other Test Subjects vs. Giant Robot Spiders”

Censorship in Malaysia: Nothing seems to be deliberately cut for the media screening held at IMAX TGV 1 Utama. It’s a P13 film anyway, it’s made to be mild.

Second opinion: My girlfriend agreed that it’s “interesting but not emotionally engaging and had too little of the maze”.

Verdict: An interesting teen thriller with a little action, but don’t go questioning like the protagonist as the movie has no answer.

Rated: 2.5 / 5

Maze Runner poster malaysia
Based on
: James Dashner’s novel “The Maze Runner”
Genre: Sci-fi action thriller
Running Time: 114 minutes
Director: Wes Ball
Screenwriters: Noah Oppenheim
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen

Malaysia Release Date: 11 September 2014
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: Gotham Group, Temple Hill Entertainment

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