Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Maze Runner

Film: The Maze Runner

Starring: Dylan O'Brien (The Internship), Will Poulter (We're the Millers) and Patricia Clarkson (Easy A)

Director: Wes Ball

U.S. Release: September 19th, 2014 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Action

Runtime: 113 minutes

You can run, but you can't hide. The young adult novel craze has taken over mainstream film and, after staring far over the horizon, it's clear to see that there's no ending in sight. The latest adapted film from the genre, Wes Ball's The Maze Runner, serves as an unfortunate example of just how deeply entrenched our culture is in this teenage-driven phenomenon. In a dog-eat-dog world it's shocking to see just how open these money-hoarding studios are to forking over the funds to develop a blockbuster franchise such as this. Well, I guess money really does talk.

After Thomas (played by Dylan O'Brien) awakes with a severe case of memory-loss only to discover a trapped community of boys facing the same set of circumstances, he begins learn about their developed society where an ever-changing maze appears to be the only hope of escape. However, spider-like creatures known as Grievers terrorize the maze throughout the nighttime where no one has ever lived to tell about an encounter. Therefore, a brave and courageous Thomas goes against the rules of the society in order to search the maze for answers and free themselves from this mysterious set of circumstances.

With a Lost-like approach more inclined to create questions than answering them, The Maze Runner attempts to entertain solely on intrigue and action alone. Utilizing a large cast of characters, each of which has no useful backstory due to a weakly supported memory-loss premise, debut director Wes Ball demonstrates no desire to establish an emotional connection with the audience. Rather, nearly two hours are spent focusing on thrilling chase sequences throughout the maze where nothing helps progress the story forward. All of which lead to a less-than revelatory finale that paves the way for multiple sequels to this newly established franchise.

Despite the feature's fundamentally flawed agenda of sacrificing content and story for suspense and visuals, The Maze Runner has many edge-of-your-seat moments. The up-tempo sequences inevitably make for entertaining viewing experiences until they begin to run their course. Eventually, the intensity loses its spark and a flimsy storyline emerges from the background destroying everything the film has built to that point, much like the Grievers to the boys' community. After wading through a myriad of action-packed and visually pleasing moments, The Maze Runner is unmasked for what it truly is, a money-printing piece of fluff.

Furthermore, I'd like to take this opportunity to address the family member of young actor Dexter Darden who sat near me during the screening and continually ruined the entire experience for many of the viewing audience. By adding your own soundtrack and dialogue to the film, filled with vulgarities and shrieking screams that were by no means necessary, you alienated a large number of people who will most-likely spread negativity about The Maze Runner. All of Dexter and the rest of the young cast's hard work becomes overshadowed by your inexplicable lack of respect and disregard for proper social behavior. If a grown woman such as yourself is unable to control your own personal actions, much like a toddler, than please refrain from ever leaving the house.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C


  1. You do realize this movie was made with a budget of $30m? That's not a lot for a studio like Fox to "fork over."

    It's hilarious that you mention a YA craze taking over mainstream film. What about the superhero craze? All of those films follow the same formula, a hero stopping a villain from getting an object of power that will help them with their goals of world domination or destruction. But nobody gives them any of the negative bias you see with YA films, probably because the story feature adults. Right? They sure as hell aren't spectacular pieces of cinema.

    But no, let's go into the latest YA film with preconceived notions and come out feeling defeated by the genre. Then lets write a review saying how sick we are of this genre because teens flock to them in droves.

    And yes, I saw the film at the same screening you went to, and thought it was a refreshing and original take of a dystopian world. It offered many thrills while also having me care about the journey these characters went through. The revelation at the end was satisfying and offered up questions that would no doubt be explored in the sequels.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed the film. And, in all honesty, Dexter Darden's family member's impact on the screening spawned way more negativity to my overall judgment than any preconceived notion on YA films.

    If you read all of my reviews, which you clearly don't, I generally bash superhero films as well for their excessive action sequences and lack of original story, much like The Maze Runner.

    As for $30 not being a large budget, studios overlook tons of better and cheaper ideas purely for the fact that kiddies will.go see this garbage. If you don't think $30 million dollars is a lot, go try and sell that idea to creative artists seeking minimal amounts of funding.

  3. For this type of film, helmed by a first time director, $30 million is not a lot. For comparison, THG and Divergent both have a budget in the $80 million range.

    When a first time director can take $30m and deliver a film that has better visuals than most $100m budgeted films, that's something to be commended. Calling it garbage just shows you're a bitter fool.

    But in all honesty, I don't care about your opinion, and neither does any else. So continue ranting about how awful this experience was into the void.

  4. I welcome you to name an origin film in the YA genre that boasted an $80 million budget with a debut director. Both The Hunger Games and Divergent carried reputable leads and neither of which had a debut director.

    However, other YA films like The Giver and Twilight both had budgets in the $20 and $30 millions, so both of us can find examples to support our case. Either way though, the truth remains that $30 million is a large budget for a cast of relative unknowns (outside of Patricia Clarkson's 10 minutes of face-time, max) and a director with no major motion picture experience.

    On one last note, my site doesn't discriminate and I welcome everyone ... those who value my opinion, and those who don't. I'm not telling you how to feel, I'm just trying to provide valuable information as to whether or not a person should spend their hard-earned dollars on an expensive movie experience. And when it comes to The Maze Runner, people shouldn't.