Movie Review: Nothing remotely amazing about “The Maze Runner”

1half-starmazeThis month’s “young adults save the future” film franchise is “The Maze Runner,” an indifferent quest tale about boys trapped in a gigantic maze with no idea how they got there.
A teen boy (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up, screaming, on a freight elevator soaring up to a field, where it promptly drops its “greenie” or newby into a clatch of rustic boys his own age. He doesn’t know his name or anything else other than the English language. But the other lads set him straight.
This is “Glades,” the glade. Some boys are “Builders,” some are “Runners.” They run through the vast walled maze that surrounds their encampment each day, coming home just before the huge walls creak shut on gigantic gears each night.
They’re careful to avoid “The Grievers,” supersized spiders with metallic legs, guardians of The Maze. Because Grievers sting, and their sting causes “The Change” — a poisonous delirium.
There are rules that have kept them alive under the counsel of Alby (Aml Ameen) and the bully Gally (Will Poulter). But the new guy, who recovers his name — “Thomas” — is impatient. He wants to find a way out. Now. He upsets the balance, breaks the rules and then “The Girl” (Kaya Scodelario) arrives and tosses things into a further tizzy.
Are they doomed to a slow death by isolation, or will the Grievers get impatient and storm in to wipe them out?
The big walled obstacle course and not-so-itsy-bitsy spiders keep one from confusing James Dasher’s “The Maze Runner” with last month’s “The Giver” or last spring’s “Divergent” or this fall’s latest “Hunger Games.” Plainly, these authors all picked up the same copy of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” or Vladimir Propp’s “The Morphology of the Folk Tale.”
That’s what the grumpy teen walking out of the theater ahead of me meant when she griped “Why do these things all look alike, and always need sequels?” Yeah, they’re all alike, just alike — simple quest tales with little wrinkles too make you think maybe THIS time things will be different.
The actors aren’t bad, with “Nanny McPhee” vet Thomas Brodie-Sangster standing out by being as skinny as a teen stuck in the woods, forced to fend for himself, and O’Brien, Ameen, Poulter and Ki Hong Lee (as a “Runner”) having decent screen presence.
Art director turned director Wes Ball gives us a convincing maze of towering, weathered and moss-covered concrete, and a woodland world where the boys have mastered shelter building and fire starting. The film has fine moments of claustrophobia as the moving walls threaten to squish assorted boys, the spiders are humongous and the lads disagree among themselves, violently, about what to do.
Very “Lord of the Flies.”
But all these literary underpinnings do not disguise a blasé, emotion-starved script, dialogue that ineptly repeats what the images have already shown us is happening, stagey scenes where characters poke each other in the chest to keep them from storming out of the camera frame.
And the resolution to this puzzle is so botched it’s insulting, as if they’re daring us to laugh at the notion that this is merely “the beginning.” You have to go all the way back to last weekend’s “Atlas Shrugged III” to find a sci-fi film promise that cringe-worthy.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario
Credits: Directed by Wes Ball, scripted by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin, based on the James Dashner novel. A Fox release.
Running time: 1:52

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Movie Review: Nothing remotely amazing about “The Maze Runner”

  1. This is offensive this is the best book I am the biggest fan ever

  2. Derraj says:

    If your going to do a review on a movie you find bad, make it a good review please.

    • If you’re going to attempt to insult your betters about a movie review, make your stand on a “film” and not ill-conceived teenaged junk food. Please.

      • James says:

        Seeing how you hate it because it is too similar to the hunger games or the other movies you mentioned I guess you don’t like any super hero movies or single killer horror movie… All because something has the same one line generalized plot doesn’t mean it’s bad. The Dark Knight was incredibly well received yet it’s one line plot would be the exact same as all but a few super hero movies and TV shows..

  3. Nathan says:

    You forget that the people who dislike the movies being alike are those that have no respect or care for the literature they are based from. Also that the movie itself was given a small budget and from that they created a great film. As a fan of the books AND the movie I find this review harsh and unrealistic.

  4. Nathan says:

    Also that this review is unbelievably one sided and intensely opinionated.

  5. dcg says:

    In my opinion it’s not a good movie. I agree with this review. I should had read it before watching the movie.

  6. Alex says:

    In my opinion this review gets it almost right, half a star less and it’s spot on. First of all let me say that the visuals are good considering the budget. From there it’s downhill. There is no character depth, nor any real development. The film is based on a riddiculus premise, and it has so many plot holes it would put a swiss cheese to shame. But then again, I’m not a teenager, and clearly this film was not made for me.

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