The Maze Runner: A Movie Review

This past Friday,  I went to see “The Maze Runner” in theaters as it first came out.

Having read all the books in James Dashner’s series, I was extremely excited to go see the film, compare it to the book and see how things matched up.

I’m usually pretty hard to please with film adaptations of books, but this time — I wasn’t disappointed. Dylan O’Brien played the perfect Thomas, all the young actors were incredible, and I thought the film generally stayed quite true to the book.

Be forewarned – there may be spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen the film or read the book.

The story of The Maze Runner is a little bit of a twisted one. You’re thrust into this story with the main character, Thomas. He finds himself, for unknown reasons, in a community with a bunch of other young men, all of whom have no memories of the past and no knowledge of how they got there or why. Each day, some of the boys run the maze located outside their community in hopes of finding an escape, but it’s been futile for years. When Thomas comes into the picture, everything starts to change.

One review I read of the film chastised it for making viewers absolutely clueless for a good portion of the movie, then throwing a whole bunch of ideas and information at them towards the end. The film does that, but that’s exactly how the book is, so it was perfect in my eyes. For a lot of the book, you’re just as clueless as Thomas (and later Teresa) is. You get snippets of hints about things, but it’s not until towards the end of the book that you start to get an idea of what’s really going on here. To have it introduced in the film in any other way wouldn’t be truthful to the book and it would disrupt the entire flow of how things go.

Another note that was chastising the film was in regards to its ending – the film just sort of introduces all this new information and then drops off in the midst of a cliffhanger. Again, that’s exactly how the book works. There is no closure; you’re meant to be left hanging, as the story continues in sequels. Some who go see the movie may leave saying “Well, what the heck, what was that ending?” But if the directors and writers had given the movie any sort of proper closure, I would have been extremely disappointed, because it would have been fake and fabricated and not how the book goes.

Generally, I was pretty happy with the film adaptation.

I understood why they couldn’t include Thomas and Teresa’s telepathic capabilities; while it’s easy to put into print, that sort of thing would be very difficult to convey on film, especially since it’s not a first-person narrative. The maze was even more vast and intricate than I imagined it would be, and the details were great. The Grievers didn’t match up with how I had pictured them in my mind, but I was okay with that. And the switch from the list of words as the “key” to a sequence of numbers instead — well, okay, I’ll admit that bothered me a little bit. But it’s not such a huge part of the story that it completely upset the balance of things; I can live with it. Overall, there weren’t any glaring moments where I was thinking “WHAT? That didn’t happen in the book!” or “This is so wrong, so, so wrong.” (And yes, I’ve had those moments with over film adaptations).

The one thing I do particularly admire about the film is the cast. Nearly all of them are pretty young – there’s only a few adults in the film, and (spoiler alert) a lot of them are lying there dead. Dylan O’Brien is spectacular as Thomas; he’s scared, confused, angry, inquisitive just as his character should be. O’Brien has proven himself to be such an incredible actor and he takes to the part very well. Kaya Scodelario, who I’ve seen before in Skins UK, was a perfect choice to play Teresa. All of them – from Ami Ameen as Alby, Ki Hong Lee as Minho, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt and Will Poulter as Gally…. just incredible. It did take me a little bit to really get a handle on which actor played which character, as I’d had no prior introductions to the cast before entering the theater. But they were all great choices for their respective characters.

All in all, I was very happy with The Maze Runner film adaptation of James Dashner’s novel, and I definitely can’t wait to see The Scorch Trials whenever it comes out.

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