Based on James Dashner’s novel The Maze Runner is the latest addition to the seemingly unstoppable genre of Young Adult adaptations. But while the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent go to war with evil governments The Maze Runner has more in common with arguably the original young adult novel, William Golding’s The Lord Of The Flies.
With his memory erased Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in “The Glade”; a patch of land surrounded by a seemingly impregnable maze and occupied only by young teenager boys. But with little answers being offered by the current residents of The Glade Thomas is determined to become a “Runner”; someone whose job it is to map the maze in order to find a way out. As his dreams of a mysterious girl Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) intensify so Thomas must break the established social order of the boys in order to find clues behind the mysteries of the maze.
Aiming for a more male audience than other Young Adult films The Maze Runner side-steps one key pitfall of other like minded films by not having a broody romance to get stuck on. Instead the film conjures an novel little mystery with enough interesting characters to keep the interest just about peaked.
But the issue arises from the fact this is the first part of a trilogy and as such any answers offered to the riddle of the maze only extend the mystery. It means that in this instance The Maze Runner is slightly frustrating, pulling you into a smartly crafted social experiment of a world before leaving you scratching your head as to what is to come.
That being said it’s a visually interesting piece with debut feature director Wes Ball putting his Art Department origins to very good use. The Maze itself is a wonderfully crafted Rubik cube of intrigue with the monsters within, called Grievers, a curious blend of organic bug combined with robotic appendages.
The cast all give you something to invest in with Scodelario bringing enough metal to mix it with her male co-stars and at times give them a run for their money. Game Of Thrones and Love Actually’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster is good in the role of reluctant leader and mentor to Thomas while Will Poulter is a little too bully-ish to be anything other than an obvious weak link in the community. But it is TV’s Teen Wolf star O’Brien who convinces as a potentially interesting leading man with an interesting combination of tough exterior and damaged soul.
A frustrating ending may prove worthwhile if the next installments can deliver on the hype created here. The Maze Runner doesn’t exactly sprint but does enough to make it to the finish line.