It seems every new movie is based on a book series. This isn’t necessarily bad as it means people are reading the novels for Hollywood to take notice. Purchasing the rights, Tinsletown is forever hopeful of starting a new franchise.
The Maze Runner is the latest. Based on James Dashner’s book, the film version has the potential to rake in box-office dollars. As long as it leads to more readers, it can’t be too awful as the art of the written word refuses to go out of style.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up wondering where he is. Trapped in a huge maze with a group of boys, his memories of how he got there are blurred. Uncovering his past via clues found in the maze, he slowly believes he is in it for a reason. Helped by his new friends, Thomas attempts to escape the labyrinth and discover its shocking secrets.
Taking its cue from recent franchises such as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner may seem overly familiar. It has the requisite good looking people in peril controlled by outside forces. It also has plenty of action and obvious set-ups for future sequels. Making it stand out is the utilisation of an interesting premise. As the group move around the maze’s vast labyrinths, revealed secrets and tested loyalties threaten the group’s solidarity. Helping to add nuances to potentially one-dimensional characters, the performers rise to the challenge with good skill.
Wes Ball directs the action and drama with intensity. The way he increases physical and emotional tension is deftly handled showing some flair in avoiding any predictability. The enclosed spaces in which the characters find themselves produce a melting pot of clashing personalities which the film uses to advantage. Mixing desolate and lush scenery provide contrasts to the despair and hope all feel. The characters’ steely determination in freeing themselves from the nightmare also becomes palatable.
Whilst having a feel of a typical Hollywood production line product, The Maze Runner settles into its own groove. It isn’t always perfect but leaves enough intrigue to care what happens next with a sequel sure to build upon its forebear’s success.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7