The Maze Runner
Directed by Wes Ball
Starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter
Based on the novel by James Dashner
Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape.
As far as recent book to film adaptations, The Maze Runner had some major plot changes. I’m usually not against changes for film, and I agree with most of the scripted changes in the plot of this film. However, the most noticeable alteration was the timeline. Things moved extremely quickly in the film. Instead of three months, things were happening in three days. The change seemed unnecessary and much less believable, even for fiction. The amount of knowledge Thomas discovered in three days after landing with no memory in a jungle full with wary boys, it hardly seems feasible, and therefore less entertaining to fantasize.
The other major change was the discovery of the exit to the maze. It is much more complicated in the book than in the film. The book’s solution required years of knowledge and mapping, cunning and teamwork. In the film, Thomas was even more of a superhero and was able to find a single clue that led them to the answer. I understand for the sake of movement in film and time limits, this change wasn’t altogether a horrible mistake. It had its merits and was an interesting concept, but I wish there had been more a of a team effort to to match the novels motif.
AND, since I can’t wait to mention it, the grievers; they were so completely different than what I imagined in the book. I can’t deny that I was a little disappointed. I got the impression that the filmmakers were a little bit lazy with this aspect of the movie. Making the grievers resemble giant mechanical spiders seemed like an easy fix to the complex and entirely original monster that Dashner described in his books. Then again, they were satisfyingly disgusting and terrifying. Many moviegoers commented that they didn’t believe the film would be so graphic in this way. I would like to believe the filmmakers mad this choice then to appease the faint-hearted moviegoers, and not because of a lazy, creative slump.
All of these things aside, the movie wasn’t too bad. It was certainly an edge-of-the-seat kind of movie. The way it was filmed at just the right angle to make the maze looming, terrifying, and constantly ready to snap shut with its victim inside – well, that was pretty good. The maze felt alive, something that breathed, almost more so than the grievers. The casting was a mix of ‘great’ and ‘okay’. O’Brien in the lead role was good, but lacked the frustrations of his curiosity and the unknown. Part of this I’m sure is the way the film was scripted, but it would have been nice to see O’Brien interpret some of that into his role instead of solely playing the stubborn and often ignorant hero. Alby, played by Alm Ameen, was broody and generous and a bit scared at all times. This is much how I imagined his character in the book. Lastly, Gally, played by Will Poulter, was a bit underdeveloped in my opinion, again due to scripting. Poulter did a good job with the role despite the scripting being a little generic. Thomas’s first interaction with Gally didn’t convince me that they would hate each other, yet that’s what audiences were led to believe.
Teresa’s role was even worse in the film than in the book. If they were only going to include the girl to cause trouble and not actually help solve anything, they should have left her out of the script entirely. That’s all I want to say about that.
Along with some well-chosen actors, the set design was amazing. I loved the layout of the maze and the glade. I actually liked it better than I had imagined it from my reading. And the costumes were another good feature of the film, the drab colors and similar design foreshadowed a bit to the organization that put the boys there and the reason.
This film is difficult to rate. The film alone was entertaining and I enjoyed watching it (two times actually). However, in comparison to the book, it made some unsatisfactory changes and failed to address my concerns about sexism from the book, actually making the situation worse. Am I the only one with this concern? I haven’t heard much talk about it elsewhere. Besides that, I would recommend the film to moviegoers, and I have heard many great responses to the film. As for fans of the book, be warned that it might not be what you expected, but it certainly isn’t a total failure. There are many redeeming qualities about this film in terms of its adaptation from the book.
I give The Maze Runner a 2.5 out of 5 stars