The Maze Runner review – the turmoil of adapting a bestseller

The Maze Runner has all the ingredients to be a successful young adults’ blockbuster. It has the stars; Teen Wolf, Skins, Love Actually – you name it. It has the à la mode storyline; a bunch of “special” youngsters get thrown into the deep end by manipulative adults in a post-apocalyptic universe. And of course, it has the label that we all look for when deciding which movie to go for at the cinema: “based on the best-selling novel”.

So, did it work? Well, sort of. There’s nothing profoundly unbearable or shameful about this film, and it doesn’t make many major mistakes. But sadly it fails at one of the most important things; actually grasping the viewers and making them feel so engrossed in the film that they feel it in the pit of their gut. This, during The Maze Runner, they sadly do not.

The graphics are rather impressive and the sets are admittedly stunning, but unfortunately the fact that one of the film’s main strengths lies in the aesthetics means that the viewers feel as if they are trapped in a video game. We feel deprived of any emotional involvement with the characters, and fail to put ourselves in their shoes. Although all of the main actors have quite impressive repertoires, The Maze Runner doesn’t seem to provide Oscar-worthy roles for anyone (although it is nice to see Sam from Love Actually finally growing into a man). Could this be due to the turmoil involved with adapting a best-seller into a major motion picture? The same debate about film adaptation arises once more.

As far as the storyline goes, The Maze Runner is one of those films that should be judged as a piece of the three-part puzzle that is the literary trilogy. This first installment is merely an introduction that sets the scene for future events and more complex plot twists to follow. The release date was unfortunate, coming out so soon after the huge successes that were Divergent and The Hunger Games – also trilogies, with more attractive twenty-somethings portraying confused yet brave (bravery is key for Hollywood’s young adults nowadays) “warriors”. So although the books offer an interesting concept and a new idea, unfortunately the film resembles the majority of young adult dystopian films released over the last few years.

Is it a groundbreaking blockbuster? No. However if you wish to see some familiar faces, observe a pretty extraordinary maze and get involved in a new trilogy for the next few years, it’s most definitely worth spending a tenner on.

★★★☆☆

Originally published on Epigram

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