Finally, a young adult novel adaptation that’s actually worth it. Wes Ball‘s The Maze Runner is exciting and fun, with an even amount of mystery and answers. The film reveals its greater scheme one step at a time, without ever rushing things or leaving too much to be desired. The Maze Runner is fast-paced, interesting and full of life, thanks to its mostly unknown cast sheet, which is led by Dylan O’Brien with instant charisma and a knack for raising the stakes just a little bit higher whenever possible. I never thought I’d say this, but The Maze Runner is the best young adult novel adapted to the big screen that I’ve seen this year and I cannot wait to see what’s next.
A boy (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up without any knowledge of his past, besides eventually remembering that his name is Thomas. He’s surrounded by boys that have also experienced this same wake up in the middle of nowhere. They’re surrounded by a giant structure called The Maze. In it lies the secrets of their captivity and hopefully the key to their survival.
They follow a strict code and together they work to live through another day, while also exploring the maze in hopes of finding out who trapped them and why. Once Thomas comes up, everything changes and quickly everyone starts to question what’s what and who can be trusted.
Will Thomas lead the other young men to their freedom or will he get himself killed trying to unlock the secrets of the maze before it’s too late?
Wes Ball‘s The Maze Runner is the latest futuristic young adult novel adapted to the big screen. Instead of being just another Hunger Games rip-off; The Maze Runner is unique and full of ambition. There are a lot of things that director Wes Ball could have done to keep this one close to the chest, such as casting a more known group of actors or even watering down the film’s story in hopes of capitalizing on the generic audiences that keep showing up for garbage like Divergent, but instead, Ball goes bold and in a big way, creating something that’s entirely its own “thing”.
There’s a lot of mystery involved with the story, more importantly the maze and everything about it and instead of keeping things too tight-lipped, Ball slowly reveals every inch of the maze in brilliant fashion, heightening the suspense and never downplaying the drama. He does this without creating a soap opera or love story. He always focuses on the film’s core motives and it’s really exciting seeing a film move with such a tight structure.
Not a single second is wasted on unnecessary dialogue or scenes that only dampen the strength of the film’s momentum and watching Ball display that without ever hesitating shows how skilled Ball is as a director. The film could have easily been dragged out for another twenty or thirty minutes, especially towards the end, but Ball wisely keeps things moving quickly, but not too quick, allowing the characters and the story plenty of time and room to breathe.
Dylan O’Brien leads the film with curiosity and determination. There’s just something about his character’s strength and fearlessness to get behind and O’Brien does a fantastic job conveying that on screen without ever losing his faults along the way. He’s met with equally impressive performances by just about every member of the core cast, aside from a few forced instances of manliness by We’re The Millers‘ Will Poulter, which highlights the film’s only real problem — the third act.
I’m not sure if this act suffers due to Ball trying to fit in lots of material from the book in a short period of time or just the lack of focus on the characters, but The Maze Runner‘s finale isn’t as perfect as its first two acts, which is still more than fine considering how much of it works versus how much of it falls a little flat.
The Maze Runner is still a very solid film. A film that I almost wrote off completely and am so glad that I didn’t, because unlike Divergent, it doesn’t waste any of its talent, material or running time. The Maze Runner is adventurous and exciting packed into one. It’s definitely the clear winner for this weekend and perhaps for the year if we’re strictly comparing it to other young adult novel adaptations. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
The Maze Runner – 8/10[divider top=”no”]