Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Maze Runner (Film) Review

Release Date: September 19, 2014

I am not a film critic; in fact, I leave that to my husband who is (you can check out his website here or visit him on efilmcritic). However, there are those films that come along that are based off young adult books, which I do review, so I feel as though I can provide some commentary here, albeit pretty negative commentary.

As an avid reader and lover of dystopian fiction, it is always interesting to see what filmmakers will do with an already successful book. One would think that a screenwriter would use his/her best asset in this situation: the book itself. Yet, for every movie that comes out based on a popular YA book, the movie seems to be a bit of a letdown in some way, and you must disregard the amount of money the film makes.

With The Hunger Games and Divergent, Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley are the perfect leading ladies, strong, brave, and intelligent. The problem is not the cast but the decisions within the movies to alter some of the most basic aspects of the book. Granted, a two hour movie can't include everything, but changing how Katniss gets the mockingjay pin or cutting the first intimate moment on the train between Tris and Four just shouldn't happen. The same goes for The Maze Runner.
Again, the cast is acceptable, and I'm not going to go through each and every difference because overall, I do think you should see the movie to bring some of the book's best scenes to life; however,  The problem is that there is no character development, and I don't understand how a screenwriter misses that. The movie is too worried about getting everything in that it doesn't slow down enough to let the audience connect to the characters and care about their survival. By the time the movie reaches its end and tries to persuade you to return for the sequel, you've already forgotten some of the most endearing characters.

Teresa's arrival in the Box
In fact, I saw the movie yesterday, and I'm having a difficult time remembering key scenes to analyze now. From the beginning, the movie throws you into the Glade, and it flies through the timeline of the book, leaving out important moments between characters that make you love them or hate them. There is barely any interaction between Thomas and Alby, and even Gally doesn't get enough screen time to be as despicable as he is in the book.

Key plot elements are also changed; for example, Teresa comes out of the box with the Griever cure, whereas in the book, the Gladers already have it. I was also really excited to see Thomas and Minho kick Griever butt by tricking them off of the Cliff, but that scene was nowhere to be found. Ben also doesn't get an arrow to the eye, which is a key turning point in his fate.
Thomas and Minho in the Maze

I am a huge believer in the power of film. As a teacher, I fight for the right to show a movie in order to analyze its effectiveness. I enjoy seeing my favorite pages on screen...when it's done right.

For this movie, I was invested only as a far as loving the book and wanting to see it through, but it's not memorable, and it's not entirely accurate. Girls will love Dylan O'Brien as Thomas, and boys will be invested in the action sequences. 

As a standalone movie, it's a solid B+. As a portrayal of the book, it manages to be a "D"ecent representation.

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