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Janna is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. Born and raised in a small Ontario town, she made her move to Toronto for university and immediately fell in love with the excitement and pace of the big city. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University, specializing in editing and screenwriting. She currently works as an assistant editor for a television production company. Janna loves stories told in all mediums, especially film, and takes herself to the movies as much as she possibly can. She can generally be found taking a Zumba class, exploring some of Toronto’s lesser-known gems, or relaxing with her fluffy feline roommate.

The Next YA Book Turned Movie: The Maze Runner

A story that’s three parts Lord of the Flies and one (tiny) part Labyrinth may seem derivative, dull and unnecessary. But with an interesting cast of characters, intense action sequences, and the hints and promises of a much bigger world outside the one we’re introduced to, The Maze Runner is a fast-paced and solid new entry into the world of Young Adult novels turned films.

Based on the first book of a best-selling trilogy, The Maze Runner is set in the Glade, a self-containing ecosystem surrounded on all four sides by giant stone walls and, outside of that, a maze. Once a month, a teenaged boy is sent there, all memories save for his name having been completely wiped. The story begins when Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) arrives in the Glade, and strange things begin to happen. Together, the boys have to brave the monsters outside the maze walls, learn to work together, and find a way out.

Credit 20th Century Fox

Credit 20th Century Fox

One has to give credit to director Wes Ball for tackling such a big-scale project as his first feature. His background in visual effects is obvious—the Grievers, the maze itself, and the other visual effects in the film are seamless and interesting, really helping to build the environment of the Glade and keeping things solid. He’s brought out good performances in basically all of his actors—Dylan O’Brien is very good as Thomas, and his curiosity and confusion helps the audience fit into the world and drives the story forward. Notable also is Will Poulter as Gally, the boy who wants to keep the status quo—he stands tall and holds his position firm, making himself feel like a real opponent to Thomas’ quest for information. The casting all around is solid, and it’s quite refreshing to see the amount of racial diversity that the filmmakers strived for in their main and secondary actors. The film absolutely could have done with more female characters (which that is more of a criticism for the book, rather than the film), but Kaya Scodelario and Patricia Clarkson handle their roles well and have memorable presences onscreen.

Credit 20th Century Fox

Credit 20th Century Fox

The rules and world of the film don’t always make total sense, but that’s more of a flaw of the book than anything else. The film is a good adaptation, bringing alive the chase scenes, mystery and action in a way the book just isn’t capable of doing. One thing the film does suffer from is the lack of a first person narrative—being able to be inside Thomas’ head and getting that extra insight into his thoughts, his memories and his relationship to Teresa adds a whole layer of depth and understanding to the main character, and it would have been nice to have been able to see that in the film, too. The film sees some changes and cuts from the book, but all make sense for translating words to the big screen. The film is fast-paced and clips along easily, never once dragging or dwelling on plot points or moments that are inconsequential. While there is a decent amount of exposition dumped into both the beginning and ends of the film, it’s difficult to imagine how else the film would have gotten those rules of the world across. The third act of the film is arguably the best, as the characters make their final decisions and the action ramps up. Their final escape from the Glade contains harrowing chase scenes and action sequences, which are well-paced and well-edited.

Credit 20th Century Fox

Credit 20th Century Fox

One issue with the ending is that it isn’t exactly an ending. The Maze Runner is the first book in a trilogy, and very few answers and resolution is given at the end of this first story. The movie, too, acts as such—we are only given brief answers and short exposition, all of which raise more questions than they actually answer. The film very blatantly and purposefully sets up for the second installment of the series, and it’s a real relief that 20th Century Fox has announced the filming of The Scortch Trials is to begin next month. As the first installment of a series, the ending of The Maze Runner works, but as the end to a film itself, it’s barely an ellipsis.

The Maze Runner may not be the most unique film on the block, but it’s one that’s interesting, entertaining, and has a solid cast. It’s a good time at the movies, and anyone interested in the dystopian or sci-fi genres will feel right at home with these characters and their world.

The Maze Runner is now open in wide release all across North America.

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  1. The Scorch Trials: Can sequels live up to the originals? | The Hudsucker - September 21, 2015

    […] the past decade, we saw James Dashner’s The Maze Runner brought to life on the big screen. I reviewed the film back in September, and found it enjoyable and entertaining, with a solid cast to make up for the […]

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