Good evening (or early morning, depending on either your location or your personal preference of ID-ing 12:26am). So, as it IS that particular time, you can ALSO figure whether this is TOTAL insanity on my part or an example of SERIOUS dedication to seeing and reviewing films…..EITHER way….it is going to be a SLEEPY Monday morning at work! So…guess I should get to it….and therefore, I give you….”The Maze Runner”.
SEE THE TRAILER HERE
Based on Book 1 of the young adult fantasy fiction novel series by James Dashner while also being the first full length feature for director Wes Ball, the story wastes NO time in throwing us into the fray, as we see a boy coming to his senses aboard a swift, upwardly moving lift that upon reaching its end, opens to reveal a whole GROUP of boys standing over him, dragging him out, at first being rather rough, and then ultimately being introduced to his new residence, The Glade, populated by all the boys that have been sent there through “The Box”, which also brings supplies monthly along with a new person. Initially not even remembering his own name, the new “greenie” comes to know The Glade’s leaders, Gally (Will Poulter) and Alby (Aml Ameen) the latter of whom then makes the newbie realize that their home is surrounded by the monstrous walls of The Maze, which keeps them all trapped inside The Glade, and the doors of which close every night to keep out creatures known only as Grievers. And during the night, the howls of these monsters plus the ominous rumblings of The Maze changing its form, echo eerily throughout The Glade, all the while Thomas is having strange dreams and flashing images of things he cannot yet explain, but may be tied to everyone residing in his new home. Living entirely on the monthly supplies and their own man-made huts and grown foods, the new boy, who ultimately we find out is named Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), attempts to fit into his new society, though curiosity is getting the best of him when it comes to The Maze, much to Gally’s constant disappointment. Befriending fellow “inmates” Chuck (Blake Cooper), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and Alby, Thomas finds out about the Runners, Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and another, who are charged during daylight hours to enter and map The Maze. When circumstances arise that not only cause Thomas to enter The Maze against the rules, he also accomplishes an unexpected feat in the process, and soon it is apparent he has more skills than anyone thought possible. But when this growing curiosity plus a discovery inside a return trip to The Maze causes a stir between Gally and Thomas, things are further escalated with the arrival of one more person in The Box, this time a girl named Theresa (Kaya Scodelario) who seems to already KNOW Thomas somehow, as she seems to have the same dreams and flashbacks that Thomas does. Minho and Thomas become the new Runner team and continue to put together the knowledge they’ve gathered to go further and reveal more inside The Maze than ever before. But this exploration doesn’t go unnoticed, and when events unfold that turn to tragedy for The Glade, a final decision is made by Thomas that the time to make an attempt to escape has come and a war of attrition starts (add to this tensions seriously rising) between Thomas and Gally, who still believes there IS no escape. The tale hurtles towards its multiple reveals as those loyal to Thomas make their stand and Gally makes his choice as well, but NONE of them are ready for what they find out about the TRUE nature of The Maze and those who are responsible for it. As you can guess, there are a LOT of details that would give away major plot points aka: SPOILERS….so….need I say it?
Honestly, the film surprised me more than I thought it would in that it is really INTENSE and frankly, very ADULT in its execution of the trials, dangers, and overall plight these teen boys (and girl) are experiencing. The initial thought is to have certain comparisons to be made with “Lord of the Flies“, as aspects of the society Gally and Alby have created reflects similar themes. But as always, when an unexpected wild card gets thrown into the mix, all bets are off, and things start to change in big ways. Visually the film is potent in illustrating the sheer scope of The Maze, much less the dangers that lie within. The Grievers are some seriously wild creations and very much the scary nightmares they are supposed to be. Once inside The Maze, you also just get an even better sense of the magnitude of efforts that the Runners put in to have mapped it all out as they have and still manage to get out alive. On the IMAX screen, all of this was even MORE vivid to me, again in the whole literal SIZE of The Maze. The dynamic among the boys fits perfectly in times of both peace and when at odds. O’Brien and Poulter are very solid as Thomas and Gally, each bringing their own sense of purpose and ideas of following, or NOT following, the rules to bear throughout the story. The rest of the supporting cast works out fine as well, and the ultimate reveals that play out during the film’s final act just serve to make us realize this may only be the beginning. I will say that people who may have felt a tad uneasy about kids/teens getting hurt or killed like in “The Hunger Games” may have the same uneasiness with this film as well, because honestly, the producers did NOT shy away from presenting the peril experienced and harsh decisions made by the characters in the context of this story. It adds that intensity I mentioned above and makes this an engaging story, but not a light-hearted on by ANY stretch of the imagination. A solid orchestral score by John Paesano, and the total package is brought together. This is a true survival story, and the fact it places teen characters in the heart of it all again serves the premise well. lending the aforementioned potency to the proceedings. A much more engaging movie than I went in expecting, and that was a pleasant surprise. It does make me want to read the book now, and then get ready for the now-announced sequel scheduled for September 2015.
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!