<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Wes Ball. Starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Thomas Sangster, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Patricia Clarkson
I cringe when I hear those dreaded words: ‘Young Adult Fiction’
The Hunger Games started it all and I hate those films for it. Because of that one I’ve had to sit through Divergent, The Giver, The Fault In Our Stars and Ender’s Game. These replicas all have the same elements: dystopian futures, pretty teenage boys and girls, strange rules in a land full of strangely grouped and named elements or factions and something evil to be overcome by the prettiest of them all who is, for no explainable reason ‘different’.
Young dude Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is couriered up by express elevator to The Glade, a green landscape ensconced by four walls. A group of multi-ethnic boys have gotten here one by one every month in the same way with no memory of who they are except their names. One of the walls opens during the day to an outer ring of more walls that form a maze filled with Grievers – giant biomechanical spiders – that can sting the Runners (boys who jog around it to map and find a way out). If you are stuck outside after the gates close then you’re dead. Guess who manages to survive?
The usual initiation games take place and friends are made as well as enemies. Thomas decides he doesn’t want to live with all these boys forever and goes in to the maze, which looks more like an abandoned industrial zone. He kills a Griever and stumbles upon a way to get out. But not everyone wants to.
The dialogue is banal and the story isn’t’ really that engrossing. So they send up a girl on the elevator but there’s no romantic angle. Just a minor twist that makes a few splashes. Of course you know that the maze and the kids are there for some other purpose entirely but even in the finale you’re like, “Okay, does this really need a sequel?”
Dylan O’Brien is your standard pretty boy protagonist. I feel the YAF stories that have female leads are more interesting. The Giver was boring and Divergent was a tad more interesting. The rest of the cast aren’t too bad they’re just not that interesting as characters. The Maze Runner (based on yet another ‘yuck’ adult fiction book) gets lost in a premise that could have been so much scarier and fascinating.