The Maze Runner Review
Just stick to the right, right?
Doing for Cube what The Hunger Games did for Battle Royale, The Maze Runner is actually a pretty decent addition to the plethora of recent Young Adult adaptations; pity it doesn’t have an ending.The premise for The Maze Runner is fairly simple but also very effective; fairly familiar but also, particularly compared to all the other YA franchises out there, just different enough. A group of teens have mysteriously been dumped in the middle of a giant maze. Every month, a bunch of supplies and a new kid gets delivered to the group. And the latest addition, Thomas, is just as confused as all the others were when they first arrived. He doesn’t understand why the group are prepared to stay put in the centre of this maze; to forage and build and survive. He just wants to get out and escape through the maze. But he has yet to discover just what is in the maze, and just why nobody has ever survived a night in there.Surprisingly dark and remarkably tense – particularly given the audience that it was intended for, and the restrictions of the rating – The Maze Runner is actually a very enjoyable little Young Adult adaptation. Despite the weakness of the lead actor, the supporting cast are reasonably colourful and well-rounded, and the clever premise holds everything together. Although it’s impossible to avoid the feeling that this outing is paced as just a first instalment – you might occasionally wonder why it doesn’t get moving a little quicker – by the same token this does allow the tension to build and the characters to be slightly better developed. Once in the maze, things are surprisingly scary, and it’s no wonder that this ended up being slightly cut by UK censors.
Unfortunately these days films are not only built with sequels in mind, they’re built with whole franchises planned. Sometimes this can be great – The Avengers – but sometimes it goes too far, with films no longer being capable of standing on their own. Imagine if Alien ended with the start of Aliens? How frustrating would that be?
It’s a shame really then that the whole thing ultimately remains merely a first chapter in a much bigger picture, and that it struggles to stand on its own. A slightly tweaked ending, and this would have still been left open for a sequel, but not left so open-ended that you basically need to see the next film in order to understand what on earth is going on. It’s a small, but not insignificant, frustration when it comes to modern moviemaking and franchise building. But, thankfully, it doesn’t stop this from being an enjoyable new first chapter in a worthy new YA franchise.
It’s a decent, thrilling teen survival actioner – part Cube, part Lord of the Flies; part Hunger Games, part Resident Evil.
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