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REVIEW: ‘The Maze Runner’ is a mystery better left unsolved

(Photo provided)

(Photo provided)

“The Maze Runner” is the enigmatic movie adaptation of the novel with the same title by James Dashner. In a strange series of events, protagonist Thomas (Dylan O’Brian) – a young teenager who mysteriously wakes up without any memory – finds himself trapped inside a massive maze with other boys who call themselves “Gladers. ” Together, they plot to find a way out.

In this world, everyone has a role.  “Track-hoes” work in the gardens. “Builders” and “bricknicks” build and repair shelters and other structures. But the “runners” in particular hold the most important task – they sprint through the maze during daytime in hopes of finding a way to escape their prison.

The catch is that the maze is only open from sunrise to sundown. The runners must utilize this time to map out the maze before it closes for the night and traps them inside.

No one has ever survived a night trapped in the maze.

The Glade – the open space in the center of the maze where the boys (called “Gladers”) live – is beautiful. In contrast, the Maze is daunting and full of secrecy. Its dark corridors and foliage provide a sense of just how long these characters have been trapped here.

With the arrival of Thomas, problems begin to emerge. This upsets Galley (Will Pouter), an older and stronger member who believes the Gladers were meant to stay in the maze. This directly conflicts with Thomas, who believes they were meant to escape. Even more complications occur when Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the only girl to ever set foot in the maze, somehow recognizes Thomas, despite the fact everyone’s memory was erased upon arrival.

I love the way “The Maze Runner” begins. It puts you into this strange world and tells you little about it. Establishing a sense of mystery, your imagination is left to go wild. The mystery, however, is quickly burned down as every 10 minutes a big “revelation” occurs. Eventually, this left me wishing I was back at the beginning where I actually knew less about the world – partially because these “revelations” were not captivating.

This all comes full circle once we reach the plot twist, which is lazy and unoriginal. I believe a good plot twist should be hinted throughout the film in subtle ways but never actually revealed until the end. Not only does this movie fail to provide such hints, it uses an unexplained red herring as a solution for their predicament.

I hoped the Grievers – the part-mechanic, part-organic bug-like hybrid that chases the kids throughout the maze – would play a bigger part in the story. Alas, they are only used as ambiguous antagonists. I also wished Teresa played a larger role. Unfortunately – SPOILER ALERT – she only turns out to be a major plot point for the sequel, as hinted towards the end of the film.

“The Maze Runner” isn’t all bad, though. There are some heart-racing sequences with the Grievers. One of my favorite scenes is when Thomas and Minho (Ki Hong Lee), another runner, are trying to escape the maze as its shifting and changing right before them. Scenes like these are well done and paced perfectly throughout the plot arc.

Overall, fans of the novel may enjoy the movie for its intense chase sequences and creative world building. However, given the disappointing twist, uninteresting dialogue and boring plot, what could have been a great sci-fi thriller bumps down from “great” to “good.” Despite having a fantastic mysterious tone, the mystery should have been left a secret.

3/5 stars

Lukas Salazar is a sophomore digital media arts major. This review reflects the view of the writer only. 

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