Best way to solve a maze, start at the end. I do not recommend that strategy for watching this movie.
“The Maze Runner” is the story of a group of boys who find themselves dropped into the middle of a maze with no memories and only each other to try and find not only an exit but a meaning behind it all. Like many other movies hitting the screen in this post Twilight world, it’s based on a successful Young Adult novel, and looks to capitalize on that popularity in a big way. But a funny thing happened on the way through the maze, instead of just doing a quick cash grab, they accidentally made a pretty good movie.
I know, I was surprised too, but I really found myself loving this world. Now I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the concept and figuring out the mystery of this universe. I’m a sucker for a high concept mystery and this checks all those boxes. It’s like LOST meets the Lost boys, with the youth and exuberance of Neverland meeting the consternation and metaphysical discovery of the smoke monster. Right from the start we are dropped into this mystery with no padding or backstory to slow us down. The questions come fast and with every answer new questions arise. It’s mentally engaging in a way that few movies really succeed at anymore, introducing new elements to the mystery at the perfect pace. Just as you start to think you get the world, the creators throw something brand new at you to keep you on your toes. And it never stops. Up til the very last frame of film, we are learning about this universe and the boys who are at the center of it. Speaking of which, some really great casting and performances here as well, with each of these young men finding their own truth in this world and connecting to us on different levels as the mystery unfolds.
And is never completely unfolded. Yeah, remember how LOST fans rioted after the finale didn’t answer all the “questions”, well, there may be some of that here as well. Of course, in this case there are two more books and a prequel in the series that I’m sure they are hoping to bring to the screen as well, but on it’s own, the worst thing about this movie is the end, or to be more precise, the lack of one. The ending is more like a commercial break, where they try to tease you so you’ll stick around. Only this time the commercials will last at least 2 years and that’s if they don’t decide to cancel the show before the commercials are over. The other thing I should mention is that for YA material this movie is both brutal and terrifying. I mean it’s as dark as I’ve seen in this category. Which is saying something when you consider the biggest hit in the genre, Hunger Games, is a movie where kids are forced to execute each other. But there, the concept is dark but the keep the tone lighter. Here, the let the tone live in the darkness a bit, and it might disturbing for some.
At the end of the day, The Maze Runner is a captivating and well designed mystery. The acting is wonderful and the plotting keeps the audience in for the entire ride. Even though the movie doesn’t really end, and might be a dark for the genre, I still think it finds its way through to a solid B+.