The Maze Runner

There are few things more delightful in the cinema than to go expecting very little only to be stunned by a film’s quality.

The Maze RunnerIt came out of the blue and proved to be a shocking surprise. With a first time director (Wes Ball) and a bevy of young actors largely unknown on the big screen, The Maze Runner is by far the biggest surprise of this largely forgettable year.

I’m not the first critic to note that it is a modern-day version of The Lord of the Flies (1990). At some unknown date in the future, a large group of teenage boys find themselves trapped in a large, walled compound surrounded on the outside by a giant maze. There is one entrance that opens in the morning and closes for the evening, and anyone left on their own in the maze dies for unknown reasons.

Forced to build their own society, the boys have learned to govern themselves. Once a month a gated container arrives from an unknown location deep under the ground, bringing both supplies and a new arrival. Something has robbed all of the boys of any knowledge of their past, and the only thing they can recall is their first names.

With the arrival of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and a comatose young girl (Kaya Scodelario) with a strange note, things immediately change in the maze. Forming a band of brothers, they start to explore the maze to find a way to escape. Danger is found at every turn as roaming the maze are a group of large spider-like creatures called Grievers. Let’s just say that these brutes will fight to the death.

The film has some great special effects and is supported by a tantalizing soundtrack. Furthermore, much like The Hunger Games, the tension increases dramatically, and please be prepared for the fact that many of these young kids are going to perish.

While I won’t give it away, there is a reason that society has placed these kids in the maze, and the story unfolds in dramatic fashion thanks to the richness of a script by Noah Oppenheim and Grant Pierce Myers. Let me simply say that some adults appear at the end of the film, one being a chemist played by the accomplished Patricia Clarkson. Yet tantalizing questions are left unanswered.

It is clear that a further adventure awaits our group of survivors in a sequel to follow next year. I never would have thought for a moment that I would say this, but I can’t wait.