When Thomas wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys, he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape.
You’d think nothing could be worse than waking up with no memory. Well how about waking up with no memory trapped in a giant maze. A giant maze run by a community of teenage boys? Yeah, that’s probably worse. So you really have to feel bad for Thomas, a young boy who finds himself in this very situation. With no idea who or where he is, will Thomas be the one to finally figure out the solution to the maze?
This film, based on the bestselling ‘Maze Runner’ book series by James Dashner, starts off at a quite slow pace, which is a nice touch as it allows you to empathise with Thomas as tries to uncover the mystery surrounding who he is/was, the pecking order of the community he has found himself and the maze itself. This section does threaten to go on a little too long without anything too meaningful happening but thanks to a good cast and the fact that you’ll be genuinely intrigued about what is going on, you won’t mind too much.
Plus, when things finally do kick off, they really kick off. And this is helped with the inclusion of the ‘Grievers’, mysterious spider-like beasts which prowl the maze every night. These creatures are probably the best thing about the movie and the sequences featuring them are both exciting and incredibly tense. A fact which is helped by the director’s decision to keep the Grievers mostly hidden in darkness and never really letting us get a good look at them until later in the film (and as a fan of creature features, you can trust me when I say they’re worth the wait)
Due to the nature of the story, the cast is almost entirely filled with younger actors and everyone plays their part well. Dylan O’Brien’s Thomas plays the reluctant hero with the perfect mix of confusion and determination. Will Poulter’s Gally seems like the typical bully of the piece but manages to bring some substance to his role as he genuinely seems to be making tough choices because he thinks they will benefit the community.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt) and Aml Ameen (Alby) are the de facto leaders of the community and they manage to bring a maturity to the roles without ever feeling like they’re kids playing adults. Kaya Scodelario’s Teresa is an interesting character as she’s the only girl to ever arrive in the maze. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding her but I’m glad everything wasn’t resolved concerning her past or her connection to Thomas. Plus I really like the fact that she becomes an integral part of the escape attempt rather than just being there as a love interest.
The only real problem with the characters is that some of them don’t get enough time to get fleshed out (and one in particular gets really short changed). However the movie is already quite long so this is understandable and as the film is begging for a sequel, this is something which will hopefully be addressed in sequels.
I also feel I should include a section on the maze here as well. Huge, confusing and foreboding, it really becomes a character in it’s own right and a lot of the film’s best sequences take place within it. Whether the characters are in the small corridors or the wide open spaces within the maze, there is always a sense of claustrophobia during the maze scenes as you truly get the impression that there is no escape.
Unfortunately the final act of the movie is by far the weakest. Having spent so long teasing us with the mystery of solving the maze and who Thomas really is, the movie then moves into explanation/sequel mode. This isn’t the worst way for the movie to end as I genuinely am interested in seeing where the story goes, it just seems like an anti-climax as you’ll probably have a fairly good idea of what’s going on well before this point and it really slows down the momentum, especially after the awesome sequences that precede it.
This is a really promising first movie for the Mazerunner series. There’s interesting characters played by good actors. A sense of mystery and tension which lasts throughout most of the film’s runtime and a few excellent set-pieces (featuring a great new movie monster). Sure, the film loses it’s way slightly towards the end (as I’d honestly have preferred there to be a little more ambiguity about what was going on) but as it does set up a sequel that I’m really looking forward to, I figure that evens it out. I definitely recommend checking this one out over the weekend.