Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by Wes Ball
James Dashner's The Maze Runner series has certainly taken our family by storm. Earlier in the year, I bought the books, and I had to literally fight my siblings for a chance to read them myself. My sister Margot, in particular, got completely lost in the fandom, feverishly tweeting @jamesdashner and director @wesball, making an epic fan video, and getting herself invited to an exclusive fan screening in Amsterdam. On Saturday, she fixed us all tickets to the three-screen, Barco/Kinepolis "The Maze Runner Experience". 

In case you're not a Runner, here's a brief outline of the plot:

One very unfortunate day, Thomas (Teen Wolf/The Internship actor Dylan O'Brien) arrives in the Glade via a box. The Glade is inhabited by a group of other boys, all of whom arrived there with one month in between with no other memory than their own name, who have been trying to solve the massive maze beyond the wall for the past three years. Thomas quickly befriends Newt (Game of Thrones actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster), leader Alby (Aml Ameen) and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) aka the "Keeper of the Runners". 

One guy who doesn't like him, however, is Gally (We're The Millers actor Will Poulter), whose general suspicion of Thomas only grows when Teresa (Skins actress Kaya Scodelario), the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade, appears to recognize him. To make matters even more daunting, a note in her hand says she will be "the last one ever". Teresa's arrival marks the start of a suspenseful race against the deadly Grievers and the ever-changing Maze.

Let me start out by saying that Barco is definitely onto something with their super wide-screen innovation. Moreso than 3D, which gets bothersome with the 3D glasses and seldom adds value, the added screens make for a truly immersive experience. More than 10 minutes of additional footage would have been nice, but Barco's innovation is certainly worth its while. Fingers crossed that it doesn't get overdone.

And now for our featured presentation.

Debut director Wes Ball did an admirable job of bringing Dashner's dystopian YA novel to life. Sure, his adaptation has the very same plot holes the book has, and I'm sure the critics will have something to say about that, but it also features the fast pace, mystery and thrill that made The Maze Runner so appealing in the first place. The movie's biggest stars? That would be, in order, A) the massive, CGI-heavy maze, and B) 24-year-old Brit Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who delivers a knockout performance as Newt, the second in command. Don't get me wrong, O'Brien & Co. are admirable in their archetypical roles, but Sangster in particular manages to squeeze a ton out of the limited material at his disposal. 

All in all, The Maze Runner is sure to please its fanbase and provide solid entertainment for its entire duration of 113 minutes.

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