The Maze Runner: Film Review

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This is not a terrible film but when you compare it to other young adult movie adaptations and with the source material, it is not so great. I was a massive fan of the book and I had just finished reading it in time for the screening so every single detail was fresh in my mind and I was constantly aware of how many changes they were making.

Dylan O’Brien plays Thomas, who finds himself in a lift with his memory wiped. He enters The Glade, where a gang of boys are learning to survive their imprisonment. The Glade is surrounded by a Maze that changes every night and is home to deadly creatures called Grievers. Runners traverse the maze to find an escape route but nothing seems to work. However, the arrival of Thomas and a mysterious girl changes everything.

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I really liked the book and I want to get a few keys differences off my chest before I can just talk about the film on its own merits. Many of the action sequences were different, the character of Gally was vastly changed, no importance given to the maze maps and the Grievers did not look like anything I had imagined. Also, in the making of these changes, I noticed a couple of plot holes that just did not make sense – it should have stuck closer to the source material.

Beyond that though, it was more about the pacing and the understanding of characters. I felt like the film did not take the time to get to know anybody or to fully explain their situation. I got it, but for the uninitiated, it simply lacked depth. The film just jumped from action to action without taking the time to show us the Glade, the boys, how things work, the group dynamics and more about Thomas’ frame of mind. I know those things are boring but it was necessary to make us care more for this people, because, quite frankly, it was hard to feel a connection to any of them.

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My main issue was with O’Brien. I do not watch Teen Wolf so I am not aware of him but his acting was not the best and he does not command the screen in the same way Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley do. It doesn’t have grit and weight and he did not do Thomas justice. The range of emotions simply weren’t there but the dialogue and changes from the book also limited the character greatly. However, he is not only to blame, the acting in general was not that great – Kaya Scodelario’s American accent was a bit dodgy and Will Poulter’s character was very two-dimensional. The only actor I really liked with Thomas Brodie-Sangster, best known as the adorable boy in Love Actually.

I also think this is just going to be compared to all the existing young adult adaptations and just look a bit crap. The situation of the world outside the maze is very similar to Divergent and the Lord of the Flies style atmosphere inside the Glade is similar to The Hunger Games. It is a shame but the whole time I was just comparing it to the book and how it could have been done better. I don’t know if reading the book was a help or a hindrance.

I will say that I was impressed by the enormity of the maze and the CGI but other factors including casting and script let it down. The story is actually pretty interesting and unique in the novel but it was dampened down for the film to make it look like a generic young adult blockbuster.

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