Lost of the Flies
[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00DHJT6WO][/pullquote] Based on a best-selling novel by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is the latest in the never-ending stream of young adult film adaptations. Fortunately as the genre evolves films like The Hunger Games and Twilight provide the basics for future attempts and in The Maze Runner there is proof that there’s high-level entertainment to be found for all ages, not just the teenage market.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakens on a lift heading toward the surface. When he opens his eyes he’s in a mysterious glade surrounded by high walls. He is met by a group of boys led by Alby (Aml Ameen) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and discovers that they actually in the centre of the maze and while they all eventually remembered their names, they don’t remember their lives before waking in the glade. The maze itself is guarded by deadly creatures known as Grievers, and during his impetuous first run Thomas manages to become the first boy to kill one. The mysterious people who run the maze react to this by sending up a girl (Kaya Scodelario) and informing the others that there will be no more supplies sent forcing the group to make a life-changing decision.
The mysterious central premise is really intriguing and the whole film plays like an amalgam of Lord of the Flies and Lost. In fact if we were to delve a little deeper into the setup and structure it would become apparent that this is intended to be a franchise and as such doesn’t really work as a standalone. Like a new TV show might, the film spends the final portion with a rushed and frankly bonkers resolution and then a cliffhanger. Years of being taught to expect this from TV shows has engrained it as acceptable in audience’s eyes. This isn’t to say that it isn’t acceptable, but there has always been a clear distinction between a TV show and film and this distinction is becoming blurred at best.
If you assume that what you’re watching is part 1 of a film, rather than a story in its entirety then The Maze Runner is an entertaining ride that doesn’t bother dragging itself down some of the more repetitive staples of young adult films like a love triangle. The pacing is breathless, which gives the impression of speed and urgency, while also distracting you from reading into the nuance of the narrative. A smart move then from director Wes Ball who understands that any real scrutiny of the narrative will reveal holes as big as the doors to the maze.
The cast are very engaging despite being saddled with clunky dialogue and occasional unexplained behaviour. At its heart is lead O’Brien who plays confused-yet-determined to a tee. The real star is however Will Poulter, whose angry and institutionalised Gally provides continuous antagonism for our hero. He’s physically imposing and as fragile as young man would be in the situation he’s in and he even pulls off a reasonably convincing accent. The talented Kaya Scodelario (Effy from Skins) does the best she can with the little she’s given, but ultimately is there to stop it being a boy’s own affair. What a waste.
The Maze Runner knows its own necessary franchise flaws and does its best to hide them and presents a lithe, efficient and entertaining young adult action-adventure film. The cast a good and there’s enough intrigue left from the barmy plot to make watching the sequel a necessity, which at the end of the day is exactly the brief the film-makers would have been given. Job done.