Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

Previous Review: The Gathering

The Maze Runner is another Young-Adult book-to-film adaptation that offers a great deal of suspense, mystery and excitement with many lives are at stake. The film asks us which is the better choice – choosing to stay in our own personal comfort zone where we feel safe or be brave enough to take a leap of faith to face the unknown and search for a better path. The film essentially encourages us to dare to be different in a world that wants us to conform...that we should continue to expand and push ourselves to do more. Without knowing anything about the book, The Maze Runner does feels familiar in some ways with other Young-Adult adaptations (The Hunger Games, Divergent or The Giver) and it gives the feeling that we have all seen this before.

Based on the novel of the same name by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is about a group of young teenagers or kids who are trapped in a place called The Glade, the center of a giant maze, without any memories of their previous lives. Every month, each and every one of them wakes up in a caged elevator that comes with supplies. Some of them have been there for years and they've set up some ground rules that everyone must abide in order to live harmoniously and co-exist peacefully together. The Glade is surrounded by huge walls that only has one opening which leads to the giant maze and it closes every night. In order to find a way to escape, they send out runners to explore the maze in order to find a way out. However, there are mysterious, dangerous creatures called the "Grievers" that come out at night to hunt for food and the runners must ensure that they're back before the maze closes every night. The runners have been doing that for years, but still unable to find a way out, until Thomas appears.

As with many other Young-Adult protagonists (similar to Katniss in The Hunger Games, Tris in Divergent, Jonas in The Giver), Thomas is different from the rest. He's curious, questioning everything around him and willing to do whatever it takes to seek and find answers. Not to mention, he's brave enough to lead the Gladers to conquer the maze as well. On the other hand, we're also introduced to Gally, another similar antagonist who doesn't like change and wants everyone to strictly abide by the rules so that everyone can co-exist peacefully.

The first act of the movie is incredibly promising, compelling and suspenseful enough to keep viewers interested, with enough drama, mystery and tension building up in the second act. Unfortunately, everything goes downhill as soon as the third act begins. The revelation in the third act is considered a huge letdown considering the thrilling, suspenseful set-up earlier in the film.
Who is Thomas? Why he's the most 'promising' of them all? Who sent him here? Why 'they' sent Thomas and Teresa? What is the Maze? How 'they' built it? Why they're all trapped in the Maze? Why the Maze needs to rearrange itself every night? What are the "Grievers" actually? How on earth that guy (I won't spoil it for you) managed to escape and meet them at the end?
The explanations are vague...the film doesn't provide clear answers for many of the questions poised earlier in the film at its conclusion and chooses to rely on the next sequel to answer them instead (in which I highly doubt so, for some of them).

Furthermore, the film never takes the time to explore its characters further and makes you care about them. The actors were convincing in their roles by providing decent performances but none of them were outstanding enough to make a deep impression. The friendship and camaraderie between the Gladers are shown throughout the film, but less profound. The only girl in the Glade, Teresa, lacks screen time and serves no purpose for being in the film. You won't feel anything missing if she's completely removed from the story, because her role doesn't seemed to affect the overall plot of the film (there's enough suspense in the connection between Thomas and Teresa but that's not fully addressed at the end of the film, so the only way to explain her inclusion in the film is probably that she's an important character in future instalments). The development of the characters felt rushed and truth be told, I didn't feel any emotional connection to the characters at all.

Moreover, there are no memorable moments or impressive action in the entire film. As soon as the "Grievers" appear on-screen, all you see are just a bunch of closeups, fast cuts and blurred, shaky action. It is hard to tell what is going on most of the time as the action scenes are quite chaotic. Overall, The Maze Runner is suspenseful and exciting at the beginning, but it fails to deliver a dramatic and satisfying pay-off to the audience after all the patient waiting in hope to finally see everything comes together in the end. It's a shame.

Rating: 6.5/10

Previous Review: The Gathering

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