Sep 18, 2015

[Movies] The Maze Runner (2014)

I'm kind of all over the whole young adult novel set in a post-apocalyptic world turned into a movie craze. I'm sure there are some great stories out there, but more often than not they end up feeling a poor man's science fiction story since these tales tend to fudge logic or get bogged down in teenage drama. I know that's a horribly sweeping generalization, but this just reflects how I'm not in the target market. But hey, these movie adaptations aren't going to stop any time soon and I have more than enough friends and family who are willing to try and get me to watch these movies for the heck of it.

The Maze Runner is another such movie and I really no plans of watching it until we ended up doing so during our recent Singapore trip. And, well, I guess it wasn't as bad as I had feared. But it's still not something I'd recommend for anyone. It has decent moments but a lot more weird moments along with bits and pieces that just don't make sense.

I get that it's fun to make all these conspiracies among characters to make a plot more mysterious and such. But then the conspiracies have to make sense and just can't decide to do this or that as part of one big plot when really, the end results don't really make sense.

Synopsis: The Maze Runner is a 2014 science fiction movie directed by Wes Ball. The screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, and T.S. Nowlin was based on the James Dashner novel of the same name.

The movie starts cold with a 16 year old boy waking up in total darkness on some sort of elevator platform. When he finally reaches the top, it turns out that he had been deep underground and seems to have lost his memory. He's greeted by many other boys of his age, all of whom had been delivered to this place they call Glade by the same elevator. Every month, a new boy is delivered by the elevator along with additional supplies needed to support the little community. All around them is a complicated, shifting maze that they don't know what the purpose of is.

Eventually our protagonist remembers that his name is Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), which is the extent to which any of them manage to remember about themselves. Thomas is naturally headstrong and is determined to figure out a way out of the Maze, whereas the rest of the community has been focused on survival and staying safe. But Thomas decides to take more risks along with other defiances of the many rules of the community. But he may be on to something and his efforts don't go completely unrewarded has he helps unearth the first clues about what might be beyond the maze. The other twist is that the elevator eventually comes up way too early for a delivery and bring a girl (Kaya Scodelario) with it.

First, we need to talk about Ki Hong Lee as Minho, who is probably the best character in the show. Maybe I feel this way because of our past exposure to him as an actor in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he's also just a far more capable character in this movie. He seems to be quick to run into battle and is able to handle himself well enough in most situations. Where's my dorky Korean Chinese take-out delivery guy?

In truth he just manages to present himself decently. It's the protagonist who really needs work. He just has no true on-screen presence for me for one reason or another. Things mostly happen around him in that Harry Potter style where everyone around him seems to have greater value and even agency with respect to the plot. He just shouts every now and then and decides to do things for no truly logical reason other than the plot demanded it.

And the whole plot doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. I don't want to get into details since that means spoiling either the books or the movie to some extent or another. The most that I can say is that the whole purpose of the maze really doesn't sense since we're talking about some sort of physical and mental test for a problem that is apparently biological in nature. But hey, who need science in these things, right?

At this point, I've already seen The Scorch Trials, which is the sequel of this movie. And all I can say there is that each movie seems to have a sort of signature move or action. In this movie, it was the need to slide past some barrier right before it closes. It happens fairly often, but I suppose that was inevitable given we are talking about a giant maze that seems to shift around periodically just to be annoying.

The Maze Runner is one of the stranger post-apocalyptic tales I've encountered and I am surprised that it managed to earn enough money for a sequel. But as long as people have fun with it, then I suppose that's okay. For me, the movie only rates 2 pointless monsters guarding the maze out of a possible 5.


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