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The Maze Runner Review: surprisingly good YA adaptation

The Maze Runner is a surprisingly good young adult novel adaptation that explores haunting ideas of survival and adventure in the midst of an intriguing setting and stunning visuals.

The film follows Thomas as he is lifted into The Glades, a trapped community of young boys living at the centre of a never-ending maze. The twist? Every person in The Glades, including Thomas, doesn’t remember their previous life. The Gladers have been searching for an exit from their prison as long as they’ve existed there. But every night, the maze locks shut, its inner workings change and the Grievers come out to hunt. Thomas finally decides to find a way out and what ensues is a tense, atmospheric and unexpectedly good riff on the young adult dystopian genre.

The Maze Runner is directed by feature film newbie Wes Ball and he does a terrific job. The film manages to feel small yet grand. You actually care about these characters and their survival. The Glade feels like a real tangible place. The cinematography is beautiful, especially when the characters venture into the maze.

Dylan O’Brien is serviceable as the film’s lead Thomas, even if he does constantly revert to the open mouthed surprised face for every other shot. Will Poulter is the standout as the apprehensive Gally whilst Thomas Brodie-Sangster is swashbuckling as Newt.

The film does have some really phoney and overdesigned moments, particularly in its script. I understand this is an adaptation and the film is supposedly very close to the source material but some small changes should have been made. Every thing in The Maze Runner seems to have a name. We have the Runners, the Grievers, WCKD, the Glades, the Greenies and many, many more. Not everything needs a cool spiffy title. It’s okay to say they’re simply a group that does this. Lord knows the line ‘We call them [BLANK]’ was used enough in this film.

Nevertheless, The Maze Runner is an engrossing film and a surprisingly smart take on the oversaturated genre. The Hunger Games comparisons are easy and lazy. The Maze Runner takes a tried and tested story and admirably adds new supplements. It is well worth a watch.

Score – B-

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