The Maze Runner: dystopia meets Hollywood magic

By Lisa Nault
Staff Writer

What if you woke up one morning and the only thing you could remember was your name? That is the conflict that Thomas, played by the very talented Dylan O’Brien, is immediately faced with in “The Maze Runner.” Directed by Wes Ball, this action sci-fi movie is full of mystery, adventure, and a beautiful setting. The maze itself was very intimidating and captured the atmosphere of the maze in the book.

The story follows Thomas, after entering a community of young boys who do not remember anything about their lives before they were brought there. They are surrounded by huge walls that close at night. Beyond the wall is a maze that changes each night. Some of the boys have been there for three years and still have not found the exit. However, after Thomas’ arrival everything begins to change.

The book, first in the series, is written by James Dashner and there are certainly changes in the film adaptation. If you are the type of audience member who hates major changes from a book when it is made into a motion picture then you will be very disappointed. The film changes major plot relevant moments from the book and makes its’ own.

For example, in the story there are these creatures known as Grievers that live in the maze. They come out at night and can also come out during the day. In the movie they never come out during the day. That takes away so much tension and suspense. The uncertainty is what makes going into the maze at any time nerve-racking. That is one of the more minor changes from the book but believe me, there are some huge alterations. However, if you can get by the fact that big modifications were made, then you will enjoy the film. The book is better, even though it can be slow at times.

Not all the changes the movie made were bad. The film had one scene where all of the boys’ names were carved into the side of the maze and those who were lost had their names crossed out. It is visually a very nice touch. The reason some changes work and others do not is simply because some add to the story in meaningful ways while others take away from it.

Another interesting addition was a scale model the boys made of the maze itself. They have spent years living in that world and some have memorized the maze to make sense when they recreate it. It was made in order for the audience to visualize the vastness of the maze but the writers also did a good job tying it to the story.

As a film, it was not the worst in its category but it is also not the best. Before I continue, I want to say that there will be some spoilers coming up. The relationship between certain characters could have been built upon more. All that they required were simply a few more scenes of interaction. Without having more interactions, the relationships Thomas has with Teresa and Chuck appear as stereotypical film clichés.

For example, the first girl to show up has one major scene with Thomas and yet we know she will be his romantic interest. She is a strong female character with a decent personality but she needs to have more conversations with Thomas so they can actually create a solid ground to build feelings upon.

Also, a small boy named Chuck becomes friends with Thomas. That is not very strange but when Chuck sacrifices himself for Thomas it is not as emotional as it could have been. Yes, it is sad that a little boy died but another character sacrificed himself for Thomas and he had way more screen time with him. It was not a bad scene, I just feel it could have been much more upsetting and thus better if the audience saw more of Thomas and Chuck bonding. As is, Chuck seems like he was there just to be killed and add character development for Thomas.

“The Maze Runner” was successful in other areas though. There are scenes where Thomas is about to get stuck and squashed between closing walls and those scenes are very intense. I was at the edge of my seat, heart pounding, every time. It was almost as if I could feel those walls tightening around myself. That is powerful. There were also scenes that made me gasp knowing that these characters are in big trouble. What “The Maze Runner” did very well was the suspense portion of the film. It captivated its audience and made them worry about these fictitious boys. Not all movies can do that.

I saw “The Maze Runner” with a few of my best friends last Thursday night, during its premiere. We got free shirts and great seats. All of us had a blast and left the theater happy to have seen the movie. Does it have flaws? Of course. Will you have a good time with friends if you all see it together? Probably. It is #1 at the box office after its opening weekend and there is plenty of time to see it.

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