Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Maze Runner- Movie Review

(Warning, Spoilers)

The Maze Runner (2014) Poster

Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they're all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow "runners" for a shot at escape.

I went and saw this movie with my older brother last night. Warning, if someone you know is pushed outside of their comfort zone with the intensity of Captain America 2, then they should not watch this movie. I think I probably breathed only every other minute the whole time I was watching it.

Honestly, I loved the movie. It has that theme that we find in Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Marvel, and Hunger Games (which I have not seen but heard and read a lot about). That theme of a small, but highly committed group who are fighting against insurmountable odds to find freedom, purpose, truth, a better future, etc. Only in this movie all of that is heightened by the fact that none of the characters remember anything about the outside world or themselves beyond their own names.

The boys who were previously in the Maze welcome Thomas when he arrives, panicked and confused. They show him the ropes of how life works in "The Glade", their small square oasis where they live and grow their food inside of the massive walls of the Maze. Everyone has their own assignments, and they all follow 3 simple rules. Do your part, don't hurt anyone, and DON'T go into the Maze unless you are a Maze Runner. The Maze Runners are a group of the strongest, fastest boys in the group who go out every day when the gates to the Maze open at sunup and run the Maze in an attempt to map it and find a way out. And if you are a Maze Runner, you have to be back by sundown, or face a night alone in the Maze and certain death by the monstrous Grievers that roam it at night.

When Thomas arrives he doesn't do a very good job of "staying in the rules". He's curious, he's driven, he even breaks the rules and manages to survive a night in the Maze with two fellow runners. Eventually most of the boys recognize that he is different, that he is changing things, and that he may be their only way out. In a sense, he is the only hope they have had for 3 years.

I found several aspects of this movie fascinating, and found some neat parallels between this story and life. The boys live in a self sustaining society. They built their own houses, grow their own food, and every time a new boy is sent up to them in the elevator box they receive supplies. They found a way to coexist, they have almost what some people might call a "Utopia". It certainly is natural and down to earth, literally, you would think that those boys would wash their faces now and then. Men. ;)

Some of the boys, Will Poulter's character, Gally, in particular are fine to leave things the way they are. Life isn't so bad, and if they try to do anything differently usually someone dies, leave things the way they are and we all survive. But Thomas recognizes that there must be something more to this, they don't belong here, there has to be something more. This morning I was rehashing the movie over in my mind and recognizing that's what I loved about Thomas's character. He was willing to go against the popular opinion because he knew that he was made for something better, that this couldn't be all that there was, and he would rather die trying to get out of the Maze then spend the rest of his life living a lie. Thomas almost represents a person in life who recognizes that life here on earth isn't enough, it's not the ultimate goal, and there has to be something more.

Because Thomas is so devoted to seeking answers and an escape, he actually is able to find a way out. Sounds simple huh? Not really, it is so much more complicated, bloodier, and more agonizing than that. And if you think you are going to get some closure at the end of the movie, forget it Buster, you have now signed a contract on your soul that you must return to watch the sequel, because there was no closure, just more secrets, more questions, and a bigger battle to win.

My other favorite aspect of this movie was the characters themselves. There weren't too many changes in the scenery, it was pretty much either the Glade, or the Maze itself. But the characters are what gave this movie color, vigor, and life.

Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) was brilliantly portrayed as being passionate, he felt things deeply, he was curious, he was driven. I could almost see the wheels turning in his brain when I looked into his eyes. He was courageous and handsome, but humble. I haven't enjoyed a character of the teenage group that much in a long time.

Alby (Aml Ameen), the boy who has been there the longest, the leader, almost the father figure of the group. He felt things deeply, because these were his boys. He was instantly warm, likeable and charming.

Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) He reminded me of Skandar Keynes (Edmund Pevensie) and Peter Pan rolled into a very kind, intelligent boy. He was friendly, forgiving, and let's not forget that great accent and super cute nose.

Minho (Ki Hong Lee) The very handsome head of the Maze Runners. At first he seemed incredibly stoic and not very approachable, but once you got to know him you saw him for what he was, a normal kid with a huge weight on his shoulders. He had skills, and he and Thomas really bonded after a night in the Maze together. He is definitely someone I would want by my side if I was in this story.

Chuck (Blake Cooper) Sweet and due to his age, much more of a child than the others, this gave him a trusting innocence that I think really appealed to Thomas. Thomas felt very protective of Chuck, and Chuck responded by a deep admiration of Thomas.

Gally (Will Poulter) I was thrilled to see a familiar face, particularly since its been so long since a new Narnia film was released (not much longer to wait fans!). Poulter did his part very well as Gally, a boy who had been there a long time, seen a lot of boys die, and didn't want to upset the balance of life. He opposed Thomas the most, with some pretty serious consequences. You were angry at Gally's choices, but you didn't hate him, you ached for him, he was clearly a good boy who had lost hope and the will to try to escape. Applause on Poulter's American accent, well done sir, well done.

Theresa (Kaya Scodelario) The girl who gets sent up in the elevator box a few days after Thomas' arrival with a note that says, "She's the last one". Theresa had a depth in her face that meant one look and you knew you could trust her. She jumped right into the situation with vigor, brains, and common sense. She wasn't my favorite character, but she certainly owned her part very well.

This movie definitely took me by surprise, but I am glad that I went to see it. I would recommend it to anyone over 13 (this may vary person to person) who enjoys a good adrenaline rush in a movie. I cannot wait for the next one.