Runner Is Vague, But not a Blunder

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This weekend is a big weekend, with at least three blockbuster movies releasing in my neck of the woods. I start my reviews this weekend with perhaps the most anticipated of the bunch, the Maze Runner. Once again Hollywood has decided to take a book series and run with it, in hopes that it will be the next big series to change the world. Yet like always, the question remains: Is this another glorified mess from the trailers, or have they done a good job? Well with two of my good buddies, I headed to the theater to start my weekend of reviews.

 

I’ve never read the books, but knowing general trends Maze Runner has some big shoes to live up to. The premise is quite simple, a boy gets sent up to a center of the maze with a handful of other boys, and no memories of where he was before. This familiar bout of amnesia, is apparently normal, and within seconds he is integrated into a culture reminiscent of Lord Of The Flies. Of course, like always, Thomas is the one who defies the normal rules, and starts the journey of change that starts the trilogy. While the story is nothing we haven’t seen before, the Maze Runner has some suspense and unknown elements that keeps you latched into the film. Throughout the film, my mind worked to uncover and guess the twists they had at the end, knowing the general nature of the set-up, yet not quite able to figure out the specific details. It is this element, at least for a Maze Runner newbie like me, that kept me into the movie.

 

Despite the underlying mystery though, there were some other elements in the mix that made the Maze Runner an interesting experience. For one thing the movie is well shot and edited together. The entire journey is captured well, each angle well suited to give you the greatest detail in as little transitions. The same techniques remain during the dramatic argument scenes, which, when combined with the audio of booming drums and blaring horns, brings out the emotion and tension the boys are feeling. Yet, the best part of the camera editing are the action scenes, especially concerning the maze. It is always nice to see a movie defy the trend of shaky camera work, forgoing the “realistic” first person perspective for actually showing us the scene at hand. Whether it be running or fighting, the camera is surprisingly stable and well focused on the matter at hand and brings some excitement to a rather slow plot line.

 

Yes, unfortunately the story of the Maze Runner is a little drawn out and at points, rather vague and inconclusive. At first the ambiguity is fun, the multiple, unanswered questions keeping you wondering what path the movie will turn down next. These elements are integrated quite well with character developing moments, allowing more character buildup to help set the stage. However, for this reviewer it’s nice to get some answers at points in the movie instead of more questions. Maze Runner for me provided vague solutions to the unknown, leaving more questions with that answer. Now this can be good if there is a nice wrap up to the madness, but for this movie that wasn’t the case for me. I know, many are going to say that there are three books and answers come later, but this reviewer wanted a little more wrap up to at least some of the questions that developed over the two hours. To tell you the truth, I felt kind of gipped at the end of the movie, saying at the end, and I quote one of the characters, “Really?”

 

Despite the ambiguity though there are two other elements that help keep the movie going. First off the action is fun and relevant to the plot, the maze portions in particular being an intense fight for survival. Despite being a little savage and gruesome at parts, the evolutionary drive to remain alive is balanced with strategy, running, and fights with primitive tools. The action doesn’t seem extra, but is built into the story quite well, spanning the fighting spectrum between the male rivalry to fighting the raging the Grievers. Of course the action is only as good as the acting as well, especially when it comes to interacting with CGI settings. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is the staple to the casting, surprising me with his performance of a male version of Catniss. Unlike the leading lady though, Thomas fought the culprits without being as whiney, a plus in my book for a leading character.   O’Brien had a nice balance to his role, passionate and fiery, without crossing into an overacted, melodramatic mess. Lead Maze Runner Minho (Ki Hong Lee) was also a nice supporting character, bringing the wing man role to life and adding a little grounding to Thomas’s flamboyant attitude. As for characters like Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Alby (Aml Ameen), Chuck (Blake Cooper), and Gally (Will Poulter), they were good too and each did a nice job playing their respective characters. Though with the exception of O’Brien, the real strength was the chemistry between all the group was the greatest quality of the acting and the community they formed.

 

Overall the Maze Runner is a decent addition to the movie based on book library. There is a nice design to the movie, and a lot of good character building to set the stage in this morbid tale. Acting wise it is enjoyable, but in reality it’s the action surrounding the story that got me the most. I still wished though that there was some better wrap up than what we got, despite the opening it provided. Overall a decent movie to watch this weekend, and has elements worth a visit to the theater. My scores are:

 

Action/Mystery/Sci-Fi: 7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

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