Rental Review - The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (2014), PG-13, 113 minutes - I missed this film when it came out last fall.  It was released just before our move, and while I was able to find time for other new releases such as Gone Girl and Birdman, this just wasn't as much of a priority for me at the time.  Last week I finally had the chance to give it a watch and I was actually pleasantly surprised by this adaptation of James Dashner's YA novel of the same name.

The Maze Runner - like many sci-fi YA stories being adapted to film these days - is based in a dystopian future.  The difference being that the post-apocalyptic state of the world is due to a natural disaster (the sun scorched the Earth, leaving the majority of it uninhabitable).  We're thrown right into the chaos along with Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), who finds himself left with a 'community' of young men in a place referred to as The Glade with no memory of who he is or why he's there.  The Glade is a habitable piece of land surrounded by towering stone walls that separate The Glade from a gigantic maze that becomes accessible at dawn and closes at dusk.  He is quickly informed of the group's rules and naturally has a million questions.  Unlike those who preceded him, he is unwilling to accept that they are stuck there with no means of escape.  His curiosity is understood and tempered by Alby (Aml Ameen) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), the leader and second-in-command of the group respectively.  But when Alby is severely injured by a creature the boys refer to a Greiver in the maze, Thomas' continued refusal to blindly fall in line causes friction, primarily with Gally (Will Poulter), who feels that Thomas' presence is the cause of their problems.  Gally's belief is strengthened when Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) - the first and only girl sent to The Glade - arrives with a cryptic note saying that 'she is the last one' and muttering Thomas' name.

The Maze Runner is actually the first in a trilogy of novels by Dashner, and it did well enough in theaters that the adaptation of the second novel (The Scorch Trials) is due this fall.  I enjoyed The Maze Runner but if I had one small nit-pick, it would be that don't learn much of what is going on until a huge exposition dump towards the very end of the film.  I understand why the story was told this way - it causes us to relate to the characters as we know as little as they do and it presents another set of questions as the basis for the second film - but it would have been cool if they could have seeded subtle clues throughout.  That would have kept the story a little more engaging as it progressed.  That being said, I did enjoy it overall, especially some of the monster/horror elements that also help to differentiate The Maze Runner from other dystopian/sci-fi YA film adaptations.  I'll be looking forward to The Scorch Trials later this year.

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