Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up to find himself in a cage—no, actually it’s an elevator taking him up to some unknown location. But he can’t remember anything about himself. He emerges to a jeering crowd of other teenage boys who call him “Greenie” because he’s the new guy. He breaks free of them only to find himself in a large, grass-covered glade. Beyond the trees in the distance are immense stone walls a hundred feet tall.
Thomas soon discovers that the walls continue for some distance, forming a maze. For three years a new teenage boy has arrived once a month, only to find out the glade is pretty much a prison. The “runners” who explore the maze have never found a way out. Worse, the entrances to the maze close at night, and anyone stuck in the maze overnight gets killed. But when Thomas sees a couple runners trying to make it back, he runs through a massive stone entrance right as it is closing. What will he discover?
I have no hesitation in giving a strong recommend for The Maze Runner. If you profess to love Young Adult stories, you should hang your head in shame if you don’t go see it. The movie is much better than the book, which I’ll review soon. I don’t normally say this when a movie is based on a bestselling novel, but the movie is better because it adds action. The novel has Thomas sitting around or wandering around, all insecure and nervous. In the movie, Thomas is a natural leader.
From the start, the glade has a real Lord of the Flies vibe to it, with Will Poulter as Gally just thriving as the teen who relishes the tribal nature of the ceremonial fires and impromptu wrestling. Ki Hong Lee is great as the level-headed Minho, leader of the runners. And Dylan O’Brien, best known as Stiles in the television series Teen Wolf, is in a league of his own. Unfortunately, Kaya Scodelario as the lone girl Teresa does not have much to do in the movie version, except stand around with great-looking hair, though I don’t think there’s any conditioner in the glade.
The maze itself is a standout part of the movie. The crenulated, vine-covered walls have a fascinating texture, and they shift around, rise, and even twirl at the most inconvenient times. It’s a grand thing that special effects have advanced enough to give a visual treat that seems a real part of the background.
Overall, Thomas can be thought of as a Peter Pan leading a group of lost boys, with the maze and the creatures inside serving as the crocodile with the ticking clock. So while the movie version is Lord of the Flies meets Peter Pan in a maze, the characters in the book have a different nature, which I will reveal soon.