Based on James Dashner’s bestselling novel of the same name, The Maze Runner is without a doubt one of the best young adult book to movie adaptions I have seen. It captures that sense of fear and claustrophobia perfectly from the first shot. Using close ups, rough camera movements, and point of view shots, The Maze Runner creates an uncomfortable feeling of being trapped there with the characters. It made my palms sweat and my heart beat fast throughout the film’s entirety, as the claustrophobic sense is constant, even in the quieter moments.
When Thomas wakes up in a lift moving slowly upwards, he arrives at a colony of boys with absolutely no memories of his past. They are trapped in the Glade, a large expanse surrounded by giant concrete walls that open up into a giant maze in the morning, and shut again at night. None of the other residents have any memory of their past either, or any idea why they have been put there, or by whom. Each day they send out a few “Runners” into the maze to explore and map it, to try and find a way out. But the maze is fraught with danger, and none who stay the night make it back alive…
Dylan O’Brien plays Thomas, the boy who enters the Glade and shakes things up for the residents there. He’s not so content to spend the rest of his life there, and is driven by a determination to discover the meaning behind why they are there, and to get everyone out. O’Brien does a great job at displaying fear and confusion at the beginning, and slowly coming to terms with what it is he needs to do. Over the course of the movie Thomas changes, from a scared boy with a rebellious streak, to a capable leader.
The only complaint I would make about the movie is that Theresa (the only girl in the Glade) doesn’t feel like she was utilised enough. She might hold a clue to Thomas’s memories, but as a character she didn’t feel unique or interesting enough, mostly because her screen-time was limited and when she was on-screen she didn’t have a lot to do that another character couldn’t have done. Some sort of relationship between her and Thomas was hinted at briefly, but not followed up. If you’ve read the book it is disappointing, as their relationship is an interesting part of The Maze Runner in novel form.
That aside, the other characters shine throughout the film. Will Pouter as Gally does a wonderful job of showing us a character who is misguided, but only trying to do what he believes is best. He is sufficiently intimidating (quite a feat after his role as the hilarious Kenny in We’re the Millers), and while the audience will root against him, it is easy to sympathise with him as he tries to keep the rules that he has lived by – which are really the only thing he knows – alive. Aml Ameen also shines as he provides the necessary father figure in Alby, who has kept the group together prior to Thomas’ arrival. He is the leader that Thomas needs to be, but isn’t yet, and gives Thomas something to aim for, even if their views don’t always align.
The Maze Runner is a brilliant adaption that will keep you on the edge of your seat, never halting in the constant overbearing, encroaching feeling it creates throughout. Whether you’ve read the book or not, this is a film not to miss.
The Maze Runner is directed by Wes Ball, screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin, based on the bestselling novel by James Dashner.