This film grabbed me from the first frame until the very end, loved it! While the film is another take on the post-apocalyptic genre, it adds some interesting, original angles that are only getting started here in the first film. Tonally and storyline-wise, it comes off part Lord of the Flies mixed with The Hunger Games…
The Maze Runner starts with protagonist Thomas, unconscious, on the floor of a lift that is ascending to an unknown destination. Thomas awakens at the top only to find he’s outside with a group of boys staring at him and no knowledge of where he is, how he got there, or even his own name. Slowly, Thomas starts to unravel his situation as he gets assimilated into what is seen at first glance as some sort of prison that wipes the memories of its all-male inhabitants and keeps everyone confined in the middle of what is revealed as a gigantic maze.
I thought the story and the way it’s presented was fresh and interesting even though we’ve explored the whole dystopian landscape in a lot of various ways throughout many movies. This one has an air of mystery to it in terms of where the series is going without revealing much here in the first installment. That’s one of the qualities I found most intriguing – the nuggets of what is really going on are scattered here and there through the film (especially the last 20 minutes or so) in a way that made me really curious about where things are going…
The production design and effects are definitely high end even though at points look some things look digital here and there. Overall it’s a movie with an impressive offering in terms of looks and production value. The director, Wes Ball, does a fine job overseeing the design of the film and keeps the storyline consistently forward-moving while getting strong performances from a mostly-younger cast.
Dylan O’Brien serves well in the lead role showing a decent range of emotion and holding his own physically. The rest of the cast seemed tight and passionate in their performances as well. The lineup includes Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson and Don McManus.
This film is only the first installment of the films based on the books by James Dashner and it’s definitely worth a viewing.
reviewed by Sean McKnight