The Maze Runner – It’s the ultimate nightmare of being the new kid

The Maze Runner full movie – It’s the ultimate nightmare of being the new kid at a boys’ high school.

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It’s the ultimate nightmare of being the new kid at a boys’ high school. You find yourself in an elevator hurtling upward, fast, until it hits the top, and you are disgorged into a huge field bordered with high prison-like walls. You remember nothing, not even your own name; the gang of boys calls you Greenie. They are lifers in this Glade, with virtually no hope of escape, and they tell you their three rules: 1. Do your part. 2. Never harm another Glader. 3. Never go beyond the walls.

But it’s too obvious that rules are made to be broken, especially by the young heroes of YA journeys like The Maze Runner, James Dashner’s trilogy of novels. In the mode of The Hunger Games and Divergent, Dashner puts teens of the future through harrowing tests of stamina, usually outdoors. It’s a sadistic teacher’s version of P.E. — if that stood for Punishment and Exhaustion — or perhaps Fatal Recess. One imagines a generation of readers getting excuse slips from gym class to read these books and, grateful for the ordeal they’re missing, to slip into a dystopian time warp.

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In the surprisingly sharp film version of The Maze Runner, the schoolyard is that penitentiary courtyard where the prisoners have created their own primitive society: they raise crops, stand guard against the devious Grievers outside and, as boys will, flirt with social chaos by getting into frequent fights. (Dashner has read The Lord of the Flies.)

Most Gladers dwell in the grave pessimism of underage Prisoners of War. They have succumbed to the standard precept of POW inertia: that fear creates caution. There is no rosy future in the Glade’s grim nowness; it is like Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit-tentialism, but more crowded and with the musk of bottled-up testosterone.

The Greenie in the Glade, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien, best-know for his feature in MTV’s Teen Wolf), is just the tonic the place needs. Your standard YA rebel without a clue, he lacks both knowledge and fear of the terrors without. He’s the one raw newbie who no sooner hears someone say, “No one survives a night in Maze,” than he longs for threading through it or losing himself in it.

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He shall enter the Maze, with senior Glader Alby (Aml Ameen), to fight the Grievers — mechanical creatures with sticky footprints, a sea lion’s mournful roar and the Alien teeth mandatory in sci-fi horror films — and give his dour friends exactly what their leader Gally (played by Will Poulter, the “son” in We’re the Milers) has warned them against: the secret ingredient of hope.

The Maze Runner movie comes from feature-film novices — director Wes Ball and screenwriters Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin — working on a $34-million budget, modest for a YA movie with saga ambitions. Switching the sex of the Hunger Games and Divergent protagonists to young male, the film mines the summer-camp (or prison-camp) camaraderie and rivalry of teen boys. So obsessed are the young boys with their miserable confinement that, when gorgeous Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) pops put of the elevator an hour into the movie, they don’t line up for a kiss or some stronger affection.

Thomas and his classmates might also be the Allied prisoners in The Great Escape. They must find a way out, or this would be one bleak trilogy, into a Maze of New Brutalist architecture and mystic mixtures to mysterious chambers. It all builds up to what should be the film’s climax but is instead a long teaser for a sequel, still in the plotting stage — as if the projectionist had switched reels at exactly the wrong moment. We’d almost rather return to the Glade, where boys try to be men, and Hope is getting out of Detention.

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The Maze Runner – It’s the ultimate nightmare of being the new kid
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