I shouldn’t have to say spoilers ahead, but I am, so heed my warning.
Remember how dull Divergent was? A slow, overstuffed, slog of a movie that wasted the talent of far too many quality actors, ranged all over the place without committing to much of anything until crunch time and not once made any attempt to explain what the deal was with the big wall around the city? Yeah, that’s not Maze Runner at all.
Maze Runner gives a quick set up, explaining that once a month a service elevator rises from underground into a meadow in the middle of an enormous maze. The elevator carries supplies for the boys and young men living in “The Glade,” as well as one new occupant, who – like all of the other boys – remembers nothing about anything that happened before his arrival in this new, odd and terrifying place. All of the boys operate under a simple code of conduct, each contributing to the collective as they are assigned. Our newbie Thomas (played ably by Dylan O’Brien) wants in on action with the maze runners, a group of guys who leave each morning to run The Maze, mapping as they go, trying to beat it back to The Glade before the doors to The Maze close each evening. Because nobody survives night in The Maze. Nobody.
Once that set-up is established, all hell breaks loose. Kids that get stung by occupants of the maze – mechanical/biological hybrids known as Grievers – turn psychotic and slowly die. The schedule of The Maze changes. Grievers attack the glade. And so on. After the initial moments of the movie, there isn’t much time to catch your breath. The pacing is fantastic, the young cast likable and believable, the effects solid.
My only real problem with Maze Runner is the explanation the Gladers get about their lives and the world they live in when they finally find their way through The Maze. It seems pretty ridiculous. But (and that’s a big old but), there’s a chance what they’ve been told is a lie. If that’s the case, the ensuing Maze flicks should be interesting.
Unlike Divergent. The Maze Runner earns the YA sci-fi screen adaption crown of 2014 … at least until Katniss blows it all up in November.