Grim visions live on in James Dashner's The Maze Runner, the latest young adult novel to receive on-screen treatment. If 20th Century Fox have their way, we can expect at least two more entries, especially since a sequel is already in pre-production. The pitch is that a group of boys are stuck on a small slab of land (the Glade) surrounded by a large maze that, at night, closes and plays host to creatures known as Grievers. Enter Thomas, our protagonist and the latest in a monthly addition to said group. Unlike his more settled companions, Thomas immediately repels the idea of confinement and urges his newfound neighbors to take initiative in discovering a way out.
One can't help approaching The Maze Runner with an air of trepidation, given the number of similarly styled movies we've seen a sudden influx of. There are only so many times younglings can be subjected before we feel we've had our fill. The film does have its competencies, but the chances of captivation and anticipation for the apparently-confirmed sequel are simply far-fetched.
The Maze Runner's greatest facet is its overall intrigue--the mystery it initially presents for us to pick at. While the use of momentary flashbacks is disenchanting, viewers can expect a light mental stretch from their first viewing. Another commendable aspect is how the themes are implemented. They aren't subtle, but we're at least spared the disservice of being drilled by overwrought messages and symbolism. Perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise, however, is the consistency of acting. O'Brien does an adequate job as the curious protagonist with a drive to do something, yet Will Poulter stands tallest as Gally, the stubborn voice of suspicion. In that, the chemistry is also worth touching on, but you're not going to experience the same level of connection as Harry Potter or even The Hunger Games.
This is where the unlikelihood of The Maze Runner's overall resonance stems from. Most of what's presented works for the sake of adequacy, but finding anything of superb quality is almost as frivolous as making sense of the ending. For most of the runtime, The Maze Runner moves at a steady, methodical pace. Then those last five minutes pull the rug out and leave the film to slip and crumble oh so comically. About the only reason to feel indifferent to this coy play is the probable lack of total investment, which is to say (and confirm) that if you remain detached throughout the whole affair, then you may be better off than those who are more impressionable.
Question of the Day: How do you feel about the surge of popularity young adult fiction has gone through?