Monday, December 1, 2014

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

I'm a big Teen Wolf fan. I never miss an episode. So when one of the cast, Stiles, showed up in a movie, I decided to go see it even though the previews weren't that good. And really, Stiles is the only reason to go see the movie.

The Maze Runner is a 2014 science fiction, dystopian future, action thriller based on a young adult novel of the same name that is the first in a trilogy. It is rated PG-13 for language and intense scenes. It is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good

Dylan O'Brian (Stiles). Dylan O'Brian is a good actor and very likable guy and the main reason for going to the movie. He played the main character Thomas and did an excellent job making you feel the terror, frustration, and bit of hope that the character goes thru. Without him, the movie wouldn't be worth watching.

The Action. The movie had a good number of action scenes with several very tense moments that kept me on the edge of my seat. They were filmed well enough to generate the tension without being confusing as to what was going on.

Mihno. Mihno is a runner who ends up partnering with Thomas to explore the maze surrounding the Glade to find a way out. He starts out being a generic figure but shows enough bravery and skill to be memorable and interesting.

Newt. Newt is the second in command and

Pace. This movie has a dark and heavy feeling but moves along quickly enough to keep it from dragging.

The Bad

Alby. Alby is the token black figurehead that shows up in almost every movie and TV show for the last decade and a half (revised Nick Fury in Marvel's Avengers, the captain in Castle, the first boss on Bones, the President in 24, and every comic book from John Byrne). And like most token figureheads, this one is a dull, boring, cardboard cutout that displays no intelligence or skill worthy of being the leader. Supposedly he survived in the Glade all by himself for a month, and yet the writers forgot to give him any sort of skill or ability that would make that possible. He also doesn't show good judgment nor the charisma to attract followers. He is pure propaganda.

The Villain. The main antagonist is a generic bully character who picks on Thomas from the first scene until the very end. He is never developed as anything more than an ignorant bully who refuses to break out of his traditions or dogma. He isn't likable or hatable. He's just annoying and more propaganda.

Twist at the end. While the twists at the end were completely unexpected, they also negated the point of the whole movie reducing it to little more than a prologue with the real movie coming in the sequel. It cheapened the whole experience and was a dissatisfying payoff for sitting thru the whole movie.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I would have enjoyed more substance to the movie. The film makers spent too much time showing how confused people were and suggesting that there is some big secret without ever giving the audience anything until the very end. And then when we do get a hint at the big secret at the end, it isn't very satisfying. I'm not all that excited to see the sequel scheduled for next year.


Overall the movie was entertaining to watch once, but I would never sit thru it again. It tries too hard to be mysterious and intense with insufficient payoff at the end and a twist that negates what little good there was. Other than Dylan O'Brian, the characters aren't interesting and the plot the pretty thin. Still, Dylan O'Brian does a brilliant job and the actions scenes are exciting. I give it a 3 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.

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