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Review

‘The Maze Runner’ falls short of high expectations with stale plot

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September 26, 2014

Fear, paranoia and vapid storytelling are winding their way through “The Maze Runner,” which despite looking promising, falters through its self-made maze with middling characters.

After a disorienting ride up in an elevator, a young man finds himself in a glade with numerous other young men like him. He does not remember his name or what came before the elevator. All he knows is that he is stuck with these boys in this massive glade, and surrounding them all is the maze.

Movie poster for The Maze Runner
“The Maze Runner” is directed by Wes Ball.

With high walls and deadly creatures awaiting anyone who goes into the maze, escaping seems impossible to some. Despite that, this lone hero will venture out and face the beasts of the maze and find out why everyone is here, how they can escape and who exactly put them here.

There is not much more I can add to the plot of “The Maze Runner” that has not been said of the many stories that came before it. I carried much of this opinion of “The Maze Runner” before I saw it, seeing it as just another movie based on a young adult fiction novel trying to make bank off of the success of “The Hunger Games,” just trying to catch lightning in a tiny bottle. While I can say it was better than I had feared, that statement does not carry much weight when considering it as a whole.

First, the good parts: “The Maze Runner” looks good. Granted, there is nothing too spectacular, but the maze the movie is named for does have an eerie, mysterious feeling to it, wanting a moviegoer to explore its twists, turns and dangers. Along with that, the music and direction hit the spot for the most part.

It is the other elements of “The Maze Runner” that pull it down for me, though. Beyond visuals, the plot of this film does not entice you much. The main character for is shoved into events, which are explained to him, and he just comes to the decision anyone would come to: get out.

He barely has any interactions or development with the other characters and is not helped by his blank-faced actor. If the main character comes to the same decision as anyone else and has no new ideas to back it, while lacking a decent set of emotions, then it is hard to get attached to him and the plot.

There are plenty of scenes that do not make much sense either, like when a fellow glade member gets exiled and we are not properly told why, even though the reason holds no grounds for straight exile, and feels cold and brutal from the audience’s side. Many moments like that permeate the film that served only to annoy me.

Side characters in this picture do not contribute much to warrant a second viewing as they are all tropes you have seen in movies before: the young novice, the funny guy, the experienced fighter, the guy who opposes everyone and the girl. No, really, the female character in this movie has only seven lines of dialogue and only serves to advance the plot; she has very little character.

My overall feeling of this film can be summed in one word: amateurish. One thing that points to it is this being the first film of its director, Wes Ball. The various elements of “The Maze Runner” make it feel like a first try from an aspiring artist. Where some of the best things in it are what they did not add, like a romance subplot, it is offset by what they did add, like an ending that raises more questions than it answers.

“The Maze Runner” is amiable in what it tries, like setting and tone, but does not offer much that is new or refreshing elsewhere, and only feels like it touches the basics of good storytelling and directing while never making a real name for itself.

Ryan Funes is a lover of all things movie, TV, video games and stories and wants to become a television writer someday. In his spare time he enjoys hanging with friends, tapping into his imagination, and watching cartoons of all kinds.