A teenager wakes up in a mysterious place called The Glade with no memory of who he is or why he’s there.
Based on the 2009 novel by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is another Young Adult franchise to be, with the second film – The Scorch Trials – already set for release in September 2015. So why should you care?
A couple of reasons actually. While I wasn’t that engaged by Dashner’s book, mainly because it was as interesting as peers like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the film from first time feature director and VFX dude Wes Ball is actually a lot of fun.
Partly that’s down to the strong visual design which recreates The Glade, the Maze and the Grievers in a way that’s obvious enough to keep fans happy and unique enough to keep new audiences on board. On a modest budget, Ball has created a large and detailed world and he really pushes the boat out with the implementation of the main threat in the form of the Grievers.
They don’t much resemble Dashner’s version in the book, but that’s made up for by the sheer intensity of their appearances in the film. While many of these moments are obscured by darkness, its still made clear that these kids are in constant danger of not just some nebulous end but actual and very final death.
That makes a nice change from films which coddle both their characters and their audience and complete with the odd expletive from the cast makes for a film which almost feels like its peopled with real teenagers.
The other major plus point lies in the performances. To a man (and girl) The Maze Runner has consistently solid young stars making the most of an intelligent script and reacting realistically to some very trying circumstances.
Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien does vulnerable and heroic and Brit Will Poulter has the complicated task of taking on Gally and making us not totally hate his guts. Quality performances make a real difference to actually caring about the fate of these kids, though I never felt the connection between Thomas and Blake Coopers Chuck (so strong in the book) was ever effectively made here.
It’s a bit of a slow burn and suffers from a severe case of sequelitis in its final scenes but The Maze Runner is a watchable Young Adult entry that should satisfy book fans and newcomers alike.