The Maze Runner (2014)

The Maze Runner poster.jpg
Run Thomas, Run

Director: Wes Ball
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scoldelario, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster

There was once a time when films aimed at teens were raunchy sex comedies which involved a main character desperate to lose his virginity. Nowadays, it seems the term is reserved to adaptations of Young Adult novels, involving a teenage protagonist living in an awful, future society which they must invoke change upon from the villainous rulers. The latest to follow this model is The Maze Runner.

Thomas (O'Brien) awakes in a rusty elevator with no memory of who he is. The elevator arrives above ground, where a group of boys live outside an intricate, ever-changing maze. As is expected, there are many questions which build up the intrigue. Who sends the kids and supplies up? Why can they remember nothing, barring their name? What are Grievers, the creatures that lurk in the Maze? First time director Wes Ball does a good job of playing up these mysteries, but does so at the price of much needed characterization.

Dylan O'Brien does a competent job as Thomas, the aforementioned teenage protagonist. Unfortunately, the writing of his character relies on how different he is, breaking societal rules and the status quo in the hopes of escape, as opposed to turning him into a character that feels real and like somebody that can the audience can relate to. Kaya Scodelario is wooden as the films only prominent female lead, while everybody else gives good performances, but none of these characters give a good reason for the audience to care about them.

The group looks on at the returning Runners

The ending remains uneven, having a last-act conflict feel needlessly inserted for a "shocking" ending, while the rest chooses to set-up a sequel as opposed to actually delivering an ending for the moment. Granted, a sequel has been confirmed, but had it not been greenlit, things would be left open-ended. Would it not have been better to end on something that works as in making this a standalone film, but also as the first chapter into something bigger? Star Wars and Harry Potter managed to do this with ease. Heck, even Twilight managed to do this.

The Maze Runner is a competent start into another YA franchise, but could do with the characterization and some of the acting getting ironed out.