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Overall Rating
3.06

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look: 5.88%
Just Average76.47%
Pretty Crappy: 11.76%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings


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Maze Runner, The
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by Jay Seaver

"A young adult adventure minus all motivation."
3 stars

There have been action movie more aggressively stripped of the basic building blocks of story - like character background and motivation - than "The Maze Runner", but the better ones are either trying to make some point about basic human nature or engage in some criticism of their genre. Here, it's the generic anonymity of a video game, with player proxies, tasks to accomplish, and the promise of information as a reward. That's all good for as far as it goes; it just doesn't go very far.

Player approximately-38 (Dylan O'Brien) enters "The Glade" the way all of them have, through a cargo elevator that also supplies whatever the couple dozen or so amnesiac boys in this walled valley can't grow or glean themselves, although it's clear that there's something a bit different about him, since if the others have flashes of the outside world in their dreams, they don't seem to mention it. High walls surround The Glade on all sides, with doors that lead into a massive labyrinth, closing at night when the sound of "Grievers" frighten the Gladers (nobody who has stayed in the maze overnight has survived their sting). Things have apparently changed with the arrival of Thomas - names come back in a day or two - as one of the "maze runners" looking for a way out is stung during the daytime, soon followed by an ahead-of-schedule new arrival. This one's a girl (Kaya Scodelario), clutching a note saying she's the last.

A half-dozen our so other boys have roles of some import, and while only a couple get to really show much in the way of individuality - most notably Chuck (Blake Cooper), the youngest, and change-fearing fighter Gally (Will Poulter) - they are, by and large, a group that the audience will generally find amiable enough, although the range of personalities is both kind of narrow and low-key, even with the backstory that implies a Lord of the Flies period that nobody wants to return to in the past. The cast isn't really bland; they're just handed characters who have no history by definition and given a story which, at least in this adaptation of the novel, only ever pivots on the characters' emotional reactions as a distraction.

Does this arrangement make director Wes Ball the right man for the job? His previous work has mostly been in animation, so it's not surprising that he and his team handle the the visual elements just about flawlessly. Not only do the Glade and Maze have memorable looks, but Ball and cinematographer Enrique Chediak do well to optimize the picture for large screens without making the scenes shot on a smaller scale feel too blown up. The maze and Griever designs are fine blend of futuristic and achievable, even if the effects aren't always quite top-drawer. The action is presented clearly and sometimes even inventively, and there's a fair amount of it, though given how quickly things move once Thomas and Teresa arrive, one does wonder a bit what was holding everyone else back or what these particular two contribute.

Any hints of what the whole thing is about are pushed off toward the end, with Patricia Clarkson this season's respected actress brought in to give the world some gravity, and (hopefully) without saying too much, it's a bit hollow, a setup for a sequel that would certainly do much more concrete world-building, set on that path by a flurry of last-minute twists that, in some cases, are reversing things that happened less than five minutes before, which is kind of absurdly backloaded. Maybe that hypothetical sequel will have a little more heft to it, as this one doesn't do much to mine the possibilities that the seeing of The Glade presents.

Not that it needs to; sometimes it's just fun to watch good-looking young guys fight insect cyborg monsters. It's just that with the number of these young-adult sci-fi/fantasy franchises being developed right now, being about something that resonates with that audience or having a memorable character/actor or two can really give a movie - especially one with obvious intentions of being three or four movies - a real leg up. "The Maze Runner" doesn't have much of that, and well-shot mayhem only gets it so far.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=25922&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/18/14 17:58:16
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User Comments

4/11/15 The Big D A compelling combination of Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner and Lord of the Flies! 4 stars
10/21/14 Terry Stebbins Great movie! Really Enjoyed! 5 stars
9/29/14 KingNeutron It was OK, the inevitable sequel should provide more info 3 stars
9/25/14 action movie fan needed more dull characters 2 stars
9/22/14 PAUL SHORTT UNSATISFYING SCI FI, WITH POOR PRODUCTION VALUES AND CLUNKY DIALOGUE 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Sep-2014 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-Dec-2014

UK
  N/A

Australia
  19-Sep-2014
  DVD: 16-Dec-2014




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