Film Review: The Maze Runner

My granddaughters wanted to see The Maze Runner (2014) and frankly after watching the trailer, I did too. So I very spontaneously chose Sunday afternoon to make the trip to our local theater. Part of the joy was being with these girls, twelve and fourteen years old. I had in mind that I would be reviewing the movie and I was looking forward to their input.

I was not disappointed.

It appears that Dylan O’Brien is the latest heart throb. I had to admit keeping up with all these handsome young actors can be burdensome unless you hang out with teenage girls.

Dylan O’Brien was excellent in his portrayal as Thomas, as were all the actors. The Maze Runner was well cast.

As for the story, there were plot holes but in the name of entertainment, we could brush over them. I had to mention though that I wasn’t convinced the boys that were trapped and surrounded by the Maze had it all that bad. They seemed to be surviving in this tropical environment quite well. I actually don’t think I would have even tried to escape but I’m a Back-to-the-Earther type of person so we ignored that criticism.

The ending was. . .odd. I didn’t get it. My granddaughters didn’t either but maybe it will all be made evident in the sequel.

I explained to the girls that as a novelist I’ve been taught that if anyone dies in my story, there has to be a reason for the death. So we talked at length on why a certain person in the movie died and we didn’t come up with a reason, but we’re sure there must be one.

The Labyrinth as an entity was intriguing. The idea that labyrinths were used in ancient culture to train warriors left an underlying thesis to the story which I could appreciate.The special effects were believable, and fun to watch. What wasn’t so much fun were the panic scenes and this came up for discussion on our drive home. I pointed out to the girls that so often in SF and adventure movies, in any movies in fact these days, the camera flashes so fast and so long during battle and escape scenes that it actually makes me dizzy. My oldest granddaughter agreed that it made her bored. My youngest granddaughter made me laugh.

“Yeah. You’d think they’d at least hold the camera still. After all they aren’t the ones fighting.”

Another pet peeve I had concerning The Maze Runner, and other SF movies I’ve seen and watched trailers for lately is the lack of ingenuity of their villain monsters. Especially in The Maze Runner the story does such a fine job of laying the ground work and suspense leading up to the introduction of the Grievers. I was really hoping to see some sort of spirit monster, or necromancer floating through the crevices of the Maze. Something really evil. Instead what I saw, and spoiler here, was a reconditioned Shelob that looked like a crab and growled like a hyena. It was, to me a great disappointment. Why cannot the special effects teams create monsters worthy of their names? Shelob’s been done, and quite well in Lord of the Rings. A snake would have been better. I admit here I did not read the book  and if the Grievers were indeed described as spiders or giant crabs in the book than I apologize.

I wanted to make the experience a positive one for my granddaughters so I tried not to be too critical. They did say they loved it and can’t wait for the sequel so I kept reiterating that the film was enjoyable.

Having discussed the movie in depth, and after I gave them my opinion as a novelist, and budding filmmaker I was pleased that they listened, they agreed. and they finally concluded that Dylan O’Brien was THE high point of the experience and was probably the reason that they loved the movie.



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