[Movie Review] Games Begin For 'The Maze Runner'
Hoping to be the next Hunger Games, The Maze Runner is a fun young adult adventure built around a very cool Twight Zone-esque plot brimming with mystery.
When Thomas wakes up in a box to a scrappy looking group of young men and boys eying him up, he quickly learns that the group is trapped in a large open field, surrounded by a massive wall with only one way in and out, which inexplicably closes every night before sundown. Beyond those walls is a maze that changes each night, and some vicious mechanical menaces called “grievers”.
Dylan O’Brien is a good choice to play Thomas, as he shows courage and strength, even while fumbling his way through this new, unknown world, soon enough stepping up as a brave leader when the former one suffers an attack from a griever.
The film moves a brisk and satisfying pace, and there is ligitimate excitement the first time Thomas enters the maze, making a last second decision to run in just as the giant doors are closing.
The supporting cast is strong, but Will Poulter (We’re the Millers) especically stands out as the headstrong and often closeminded Gally, the kind of villain I like best, who basically means well but is just simply misguided and thus blind to any new ways of seeing things.
Kaya Scodelario shows up in the second half of the film as Teresa, the first female these guys have presumably seen in years, but they are surprisingly respectful, even as she sparks dreams (or are they memories?) that suggest Thomas actually knows more about what this strange place is than he may remember.
The Maze Runner is an intelligently updated exploration of many of the same themes presented in similar stories like The Lord of the Flies, but then some of the intriguing answers begin to come to light in the second hour, after the box that delivers supplies and one new person every month stops coming and the systematic opening and closing of the towering maze doors changes its routine to allow the deadly grievers in.
When the answers to the mysteries of the Maze start coming, you may find yourself wondering if you’re still watching the same film, as the end of one harrowing journey seems only to set up the much larger adventure awaiting in the already-announced sequel, The Scorch Trials, which will arrive in theaters on Sept. 18, 2015.
While the mystery of the Maze presents the movie’s most interesting hook, it’s the promise of what comes next that will keep this fresh franchise running for years to come.
Official Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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The Maze Runner (rated PG13) is now playing at R/C KDH Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills through Oct. 16, and at The Pioneer Theatre in Manteo Oct. 31-Nov. 6.
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