Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Maze Runner (2014)

In my review of Divergent some weeks ago I was critical of the changes made between the book and the movie.  I am not, however, critical of all such changes.  Sometimes there are things in books that won't translate well to the screen, or which simply weren't very good ideas to begin with.

I was not impressed by The Maze Runner novel: the basic concept was okay but I thought many of the specific plot details were awkwardly constructed.  So I sat down to this film hoping that there would be changes.  There are, they're relatively significant, and they're pretty much uniformly for the better.

The overall premise is the same, of course: a young man whose memory has been wiped finds himself thrust into an all-male community at the centre of a maze that is prowled by deadly creatures.  None of the "Gladers", as the community call themselves, remember anything from before they came to the maze, other than their first name.

The newcomer is Thomas, and he quickly disrupts the equilibrium of the Gladers' society.  He's inquisitive and driven and immediately wants to be one of the "Runners": the elite who go out into the maze each day, looking for an exit.  He's not the only catalyst, though.  It seems whoever is behind the maze also intends to drive things forward, as there is another new arrival the day after Thomas: a young woman who carries a note saying "She is the last one ever".  Thomas and the Gladers are now in a race against time: they must escape the maze before it kills them all.

I'm not going to go into the details of the changes between page and screen.  If you've read the book then you'll recognise them when you see the film, and if you haven't then they won't really matter for you.  I'll just say that they've made the characters more likeable, improved the pacing significantly, and generally made the whole thing seem a lot less contrived and arbitrary.

This is a solid science fiction action film with a capable cast.  It does suffer a bit from having a blatantly "To Be Continued" ending, which is one of the things they did not change from the book, but other than that I was most pleasantly surprised.

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