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The Maze Runner

USA / UK 2014
produced by
Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Lee Stollman, Eddie Gamarra (executive), Joe Hartwick jr (executive), Lindsay Williams (executive) for Gotham Group, Temple Hill Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Dayday Films, Ingenious Media/20th Century Fox
directed by Wes Ball
starring Dylan O'Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Dexter Darden, Kaya Scodelario, Chris Sheffield, Joe Adler, Alexander Flores, Jacob Latimore, Randall D. Cunningham, Patricia Clarkson, Don McManus, Michael Bow, Jerry Clark, Michael Deville, Dylan Gaspard, Mark Gibson, Cory Gooding, Cazi Greene, Dustin Guitreau, Tyler Harrison, Landon Hazel, Gary Hood, Nick Killebrew, John Langston, Chad Martinez, Lester Millet, Sawyer Pierce, Weston Rachal, Bryce Romero, Johnny Stockwell, SanChavis Torns, Lane Westerhaus, Gentry Williams
screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, T.S. Nowlin, based on the novel by James Dashner, music by John Paesano, minatures and special effects by 32TEN Studios, special effects by Factory VFX, Method Studios, The Third Floor, Tyrrell FX & Rentals, visual effects by Scatterlight Studios

Maze Runner

review by
Mike Haberfelner



An elevator takes young Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) to a wide glade inhabited by teenaged boys and surrounded by insurmountable walls. How he got there he doesn't know, nor does he know anything else about his past, and it takes him a while to even remember his name - something that all the boys of the glade have in common. There are openings in the walls, but Thomas is told that behind the openings there's nothing but a vast labyrinth that changes every day and only those labelled runners are allowed to enter the maze, doing scouting trips to eventually find a way out. Why "runners"? Because they have to be quick about their job as the maze closes its gates every night, and then it's populated by grievers, mechanical spider-like monsters. Naturally, Thomas wants to be a runner, but one apparently has to earn the right to be a runner or something, and while the leader of the boys Alby (Aml Ameen) is rather fond of Thomas, his second in command Gally (Will Poulter) is not. Then Alby goes on a scouting mission into the maze, gets injured and doesn't make it back out in time - so Thomas runs in to save him ... and he, Alby and runner Minho (Ki Hong Lee) get stuck in the maze for the night, are attacked by a griever, but Thomas kills the griever. Getting out of the glade the next morning, Thomas is celebrated as a hero by some, while others, especially Gally, insist he has endangered all of their lives. Then Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) is sent up by the elevator, the first and only girl, and she's somehow linked to Thomas, though we never find out how. She carries a note that she'll be the very last one, which many interpret as an omen of doom - and really, this night the gates to the maze stay open, and the grievers attack and take many a life before retreating at dawn. Thomas insists he knows a way out, and many want to follow him, only Gally and a few others stay behind. Of course, our heroes run into more grievers along the way and have to face many other threats, but ultimately make it to a lab filled with dead scientists and a message for those who made it that they are part of an experiment to find the strongest to repopulate the earth where humankind has been almost wiped out by a virus. Gally shows up, apparently suffering from the virus, and he attacks the others but can be overcome. Then our young heroes are taken away by helicopter, but not to safety as they're promised but to the next set of trials ...

 

The concept to The Maze Runner is promising, take a Lord of the Flies-like premise and add to it aspects lifted from such fan favourites as Labyrinth and Cube - and the outcome could be scorching social commentary or a kafka-esque trip or even both. Instead though, this film is much more directed at the young adult crowd and thus tries to give a Hunger Games vibe, which means the focus of the film is squarely on adventure, the social commentary aspect muted and instead a science fiction explanation added to the story that's nothing short of generic and retro-actively even robs the film of its absurd moments. And the fact that most of the characters lack any depth and many feel like cannonfodder from square one really doesn't add anything to the film, either. That said, the film's not a total loss, at least it moves swiftly, has some really cool visuals, and the set designs are more accomplished than anything else in the film, so if one switches off the brain one can find oneself entertained - it's just disappointing to see a great premise wasted.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD