By Darin Skaggs
Here lies another Young Adult book series turned to be successful franchise that the world will eventually get sick of, if they are not already. So let us just enjoy the time we have with them and enjoy the ones worthwhile like the very entertaining and smart Hunger Games series and the highly dissatisfying Hunger Games copycat, Divergent. Now we have a new series with a half interesting mystery and more than interesting plot called The Maze Runner.
Wes Ball’s The Maze Runner has plenty of the same tropes that have come out of the previous successors from Young Adult book adaptations; the higher power are forcing the younger group to do things that are covered in mystery, there is a survival aspect and future technology is being shown. Thomas is the first person we see, and our protagonist in the story. He is being carried up in an elevator that reaches a forest type land surrounded by over bearing concrete walls. Every morning these walls open their doors which present a maze that the group living there has not figured out the whole three years they have been in captivity. When Thomas shows up circumstances change which hints for a big finale for the young group of men.
The Hunger Games is one of the only Young Adult stories that have grabbed most of the populist group and received high critical praise. This one is nowhere near the best of the bunch, but does have an interesting story to show us. Admittedly the maze set is very interesting, you do want to know why these men are in this trapped environment and, due to the whole maze scenario, how they can escape. The result can never be as interesting as the set up, but for two thirds of the film they will have your attention. The finale is a bit of a disappointment, it seems to be stealing from other recent tales too much.
The whole story does not do well with its characters. We know that when people emerge from the elevator they have no memory of what is happening or who they are but this makes it hard to get to know our hero. It is especially difficult to get to know Teresa, the last person to be sent on the elevator, as claimed by a note from the outside, and the only girl in the camp. She comes in a little over half way through the film and does not do much, mostly because she doesn’t remember anything and after a while we just focus on solving the maze. Other characters are just too cliché like the bad guy who doesn’t trust anyone or the comic relief to seem to be straight out of The Goonies remake. It does not help either that the special effects do not look that great overall. There are some pretty scary monster type creatures that come out in the maze at night that when light is shed upon them, does not look real in the slightest and can take you out of the film.
The Maze Runner succeeds at being an interesting story but fails because it can’t tell it in an interesting way. The acting is decent, but the cast has nothing to work with. At the end it calls for a sequel and hopes are not too high for that day to come.