After the success of the “Harry Potter” series, other studios tried to capitalize on Warner Bros.’ success by adapting other popular book franchises to film. While franchises like “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” were successful, others such as “The Mortal Instruments” were not as lucky and managed only one film.
Based off of its opening weekend numbers, it looks like “The Maze Runner” is going to be one of the few lucky franchises of this genre. The film is based off of the 2009 book of the same name by James Dashner, which ultimately ended up being one of the better films of the young adult genre.
The film opens as 16-year old Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) finds himself in a mysterious clearing along with a group of other boys with no memory of who he is or what had happened to him. He learns that the other boys have set up their own community in this place, which they refer to as “The Glade.” Thomas then learns that they have also been trying to find a way out via the large maze that surrounds the Glade.
However, for three whole years, they have been unable to escape for a few reasons. Not only is the maze continuously changing every day but at night it is closed, leaving anyone trapped inside having to deal with mysterious creatures known as Grievers that inhabit it. As Thomas soon gains the trust of the other boys within the Glade, he tries to figure out why they are all there and, more importantly, find a way out of the Glade.
Given the films that have come before it, “The Maze Runner” unfortunately cannot escape the comparisons that some may find to other popular franchises, most specifically “The Hunger Games.” It could even be referred to as “‘The Hunger Games’ for boys” because it centers on a predominantly male cast.
However, the film does benefit greatly from having a fairly compelling story. It does make one interested in finding out why Thomas and the rest of the Gladers are in this mysterious place. You are as much in the dark as Thomas when it comes to understanding what is happening, which makes it all more interesting when you find what the truth about why they are there.
One of the film’s greatest strengths is its cast. In the lead role of Thomas, O’Brien has a very likable persona that really shows on screen. As for the rest of the cast, one of the major elements of the story is how the rest of the boys in ‘The Glade’ have established their own community. When Thomas arrives, some of them, namely Gally (Will Poulter), fear that he is going to destroy the peaceful community that they have established. The cast has terrific camaraderie which really sells the idea that they have established their own society as in “Lord of the Flies.”
In today’s Hollywood, the young adult book adaptations dominate the industry. Some of the films, like “The Hunger Games” have been good and others have not. “The Maze Runner” ends up being part of the former group. It offers an incredibly compelling story that keeps you guessing until the end and has a really solid cast and some really nice special effects. I did not read the book before seeing the film, but I am now compelled to do so.