There is a reason why young adult franchises like The Hunger Games will catch on to the mainstream as worldwide phenomena, while others like Divergent , and now The Maze Runner will just fade away into obscurity. One of them is actually good, while the rest often feel like rejected ideas superglued together in an effort to create something new.
You can take other people’s ideas and you can even try to make them your own, but there needs to be some level of passion involved in the creative process to make something as successful as The Hunger Games. And let’s face it, that’s what the end goal here is with the adaptation of The Maze Runner.
Maybe it’s because we are getting bombarded with films set in a dystopian environment, but it is getting really old really fast. The Maze Runner tries to counter familiarity by trying to be as original as it possibly can, but in doing so it just comes across as a film that is trying way too hard to be different and unique. It also doesn’t help that the narrative seemingly goes out of its way to hide the answer to nearly every question you could possibly have. The worst part is even after having seen the movie, I still feel like I know nothing about the world being presented here.
The opening shot of the movie is our protagonist Thomas riding an elevator up into a secluded area called The Glade. He doesn’t know how he got there, why he’s there, or who he even is, but he is there and is surrounded by all sorts of fellow adolescents. Every once in a while someone new comes up the elevator to join the community. Surrounded by nature is a giant maze that is apparently supposed to keep everyone from escaping.
Escaping what? I have no idea, and you won’t either even after the movie is over. All that’s ever really explained is that there are giant mechanical monsters named Grievers that live in the maze, and that they will kill you. Despite that, for three years members of the community called The Maze Runners have been exploring it day in and day out, trying to map it and find an exit.
The problem with the entire movie is that the entire premise is just one convoluted mess that refuses to give any exposition until the very end of the movie. And by that point you will have stopped caring about every single plot point in the movie. You can’t just bait a sequel after two hours of boredom and confusion.
Take the mysterious Grievers for example, it’s never explained what they are or where they came from. They just inhabit the maze because the story says so. Even worse is that the creatures aren’t even very imposing or threatening. During the climax of The Maze Runner movie a bunch of them get held off by a bunch of wooden sticks. Wooden sticks! If there are going to be monsters guarding a giant maze, they should probably be well equipped enough to handle some children, and not just run around getting crushed by the design that they are supposed to be protecting.
If there is one positive thing about The Maze Runner though, it is that the giant labyrinth is fully realized as a monstrously sized place that you don’t want to get lost in. It’s just that the actual people doing all the maze running aren’t very interesting. As a matter of fact it’s hard to care about anyone in the movie, partly due to how poor and unnecessarily confusing the story is, coupled with badly delivered forced dialogue from nearly actor. At least that maze looks pretty cool though.