As the movie faded into blackness a teenage girl three rows over from me screamed: “Are you serious? What?” She wasn’t alone in her sentiments.
The highly anticipated young adult book turned film “The Maze Runner” hit screens over the weekend and raked in mixed reviews. James Dashner’s novel debuts at a time when teen dystopia is sweeping the box offices. Coming on the tails of the YA adaption of “The Giver” and leading the way for the next sure-to-be successful “Hunger Games,” the film has a built-in target demographic.
Echoing storylines found in the classic books Lord of the Flies and Peter Pan, “The Maze Runner” tells the story of an all-boy community living in the “Glade,” a farm-like plot of land built in the middle of an impressive stone maze. The multi-ethnic crew of boys who live in the Glade set up a system of survival that they strictly adhere to. Every day they wake up in the Glade, farm, build, and send “Runners” into the maze. These Runners’ sole job is to, you guessed it, run into the maze to find a way out. They have to be quick, because each night the walls of the Glade close and nobody has survived a night out in the maze. Dun-dun-dun!
After three years of running they still haven’t found a way out.
This may be due to the fact that the maze is rife with mechanical, spider-like creatures, called Grievers, who troll the maze and kill whatever unlucky Runner crosses it. Also, the maze’s configuration changes every night, making the task of simply finding a way out a lot easier said than done.
The real clincher of the story plot is that none of the boys know why they are trapped inside the Glade. Each month an elevator in the ground opens up and spits out a “greenie”– the newest inhabitant of the Glade. These boys wake up in the Glade with no idea who they are, who sent them, or even their own name. The amnesia is wide-spread.
Enter “Thomas” (Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien), the newest greenie on the block — er, Glade. The film opens with his dramatic arrival on the Glade. Understandably, the guy is freaked out. With no memory of who he is, Thomas desperately tries to search for answers from his fellow lost boys. Nobody is very helpful, which is probably due to the fact that in the three years the boys have been arriving in the Glade not much has changed. Until now.
Suddenly boys are attacking other boys, the spider Grievers are roaming during the daytime, and the first ever girl arrives on the scene (Kayla Scodelario). Determined to escape the maze and figure out what’s going on, Thomas becomes a Runner.
The post-apocalyptic audience is no stranger to violence; the hugely successful “Hunger Games” centers on the killing of children for entertainment. However, the PG-13 rated “Maze Runner” takes violence to the next level — young boys are killed left and right, and not in a bloodless fashion. The story would have been much more enjoyable without the excessive graphic violence. Proceed to the theaters with caution if you are in the company of children under the age of 16.
The ending of “The Maze Runner” is the weakest point of the film. In an attempt to set the movie up for its second installment (“Scorch Trails,” September 2015), the storyline bumps up the drama and special effects to an almost comical level. During the final minutes there were several “almost endings” that layered on the confusion and giggles.
Ultimately, the 113–minute film ended with more questions than answers, driving young adults everywhere to their Kindles to read what happens next while they wait for next September.
Rachel Logan, a recent graduate of Walla Walla University, is an intern for Spectrum.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6274