Maze Runner stumbles due to lack of credibility

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Emma Alcock

 

Adapted from a novel written by James Dashner, The Maze Runner brings the first tale of a four-part series to the big screen. Remembering nothing of his former life except his name, the protagonist, Thomas, wakes up in a caged elevator among boxes of supplies. He is the newest arrival in a community of young men, all of whom live together in an enclosed area they call the Glade.

They know nothing of why they were put there or who is responsible for doing so, but in the few years they lived in the Glade, the men have organized into a self-sufficient group. Some men gather food, some build and some are part of a special group called runners. The runners spend each day in a maze that opens up in a wall of the Glade.

Changing daily, the maze is an enclosed labyrinth of passages filled with dangerous monsters called ‘Grievers.’ When Thomas survives a night in the maze along with two other men and kills a Griever—both feats never accomplished by any other Glader—a chain reaction starts. Desiring to find a way out of the Glade, Thomas delves deeper into the mysteries of the maze and the nameless people who are responsible for his fate.

As someone who did not read the book prior to seeing the movie, I cannot offer perspective on how the two measured up to each other. That being said, you don’t have to have read the book to enjoy this movie. With strong casting choices for Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), the Glade authority figure Alby (Aml Ameen) and the adorable young Glade member Chuck (Blake Cooper), the acting chops in this movie were right on par.

O’Brien fit right into his role as an ambitious newcomer to the Glade clan. Perhaps to the actors’ (and the audience’s) benefit, the romantic subplot that usually plagues young adult novels such as these was missing. Thus, there was no need to fake chemistry onscreen and leave the audience feeling awkward by typically poorly-executed acting unfolding before their eyes.

Lately, there have been a plethora of books-turned-movies with a young protagonist living in a dystopian world (looking at you, Divergent, Hunger Games and The Giver). What sets The Maze Runner apart is its focus on what is keeping the Gladers inside their prison instead of who. The maze is foreboding and mysterious, and for most of the movie there is a disconnect with the maze itself and the people responsible for it. The Gladers were given no names nor faces of the people who put them in there, and therefore the spotlight was on the men themselves and how they would get out of their predicament.

Perhaps one of the more negative elements of the movie was the timeline. The plot moved very quickly and the whole story spanned only three or four days. While the fast-paced plot is not a problem in itself, the short timeline made aspects less believable. Thomas had nearly the whole Glade listening to him and following his directions mere days after his arrival. The whole camp acted as if it was totally normal for a newcomer to shake everything up and essentially cause deaths and destruction within the camp.

Whether you have read the book or not, it is easy to get caught up in the fast-paced plot of this movie. Some parts will have you on the edge of your seat, while a particularly emotional death scene may have the same effect as it had on a fellow movie-goer who wailed in anguish.