The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

(M) Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

There has been a lot of media lately, about the high level of interest stirred by movies that are based on young-adult fiction books. Speculation continues, about whether or not this genre can be deemed a flat-out success with cinema audiences. For most movies in this genre, comparisons to The Hunger Games juggernaut are inevitable, thanks to how they almost exclusively are stories set in dystopian futures (see also: Divergent, The Giver, Ender’s Game). With the exception of a few films about death and dying, that are set in the modern day — The Fault in Our Stars and What If I Stay — most young-adult-fiction films are more similar than different.

The latest YA adaptation is author James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. It’s a tense affair that begins much like The Hunger Games (there’s that inevitable comparison), as protagonist Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is elevated from darkness, into the blinding light of “The Glade”. Surrounded by four 150-feet-high walls, The Glade is a grassy “prison” for Thomas and his Lord of the Flies compatriots. None of them knows why they are trapped inside. They also don’t know why, every day, one of the giant walls opens up — allowing “runners” to be sent into the maze that envelopes The Glade.

Thomas’s arrival causes a number of problems in this tribe of teens. Primarily, he seems to be the only one who questions why The Glade’s inhabitants haven’t tried to escape the maze. He is told, in no uncertain terms by Gally (Will Poulter), that no one has ever questioned why. Instead, they all need to work together to survive.

Only days after Thomas arrives at The Glade, the lift arrives again. This time, Theresa is aboard. Although she is the only girl in The Glad, Theresa carries a mysterious note: “She is the last one”. Slowly, Thomas and Theresa share flashbacks and snippets of information from their dreams that, ultimately, will enable them to lead the Gladers to safety.

The film’s young cast is impressive. Poulter has the thankless task of being the naysayer of the group. But you will tend to feel for his character, as the protector of a way of life that seems to be slipping away. O’Brien makes an impressive film debut as Thomas. His genuine presence on screen makes him believable and relatable as a charismatic leader.

One thing stood out to me most about The Maze Runner. The visuals are far better than suggested by its small budget. Also, much like the first Hunger Games film, there is ingenuity throughout what director Wes Ball presents on-screen. He has realised a massive scale, which should work in the favour of the two other books in the series — The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure — being transformed into another sci-fi movie trilogy.

We need that trilogy to happen, because The Maze Runner really does feel like a massive lead-up to the sequel. Much of the narrative is revealed to the audience, at the same time as characters learn more. So, like the Maze Runners themselves, viewers are baited each step of the way with clues as to why the maze exists, or what’s going on with its horrifying inhabitants, the Grievers.

Bring on the sequel, then, to best satisfy those viewers who have invested in this first film. Let’s hope there is still life in the young-adult-fiction genre yet.

What the Bible says about themes in the film

What is the true nature of community? (Romans 12:3-13, Acts 2:42-47)

What should our attitude toward the future be? (Jeremiah 29:11, Revelation 2:11)

Should we have hope in the future? (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 4:8, Revelation 22:12)

Why should we work together? (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Adrian Drayton

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