Here’s something I never expected to say at this point in the movie season but the first installment of James Dashner’s futuristic series is exciting and entertaining to watch. The book was published in 2009 and instantly became a New York Times best-seller. It’s certainly easy to see why now: In adapting Dashner’s novel, director Wes Ball has crafted an intriguing Dystopian storyline that kept me on the edge of my seat for almost 2 hours, along with interesting characters who find themselves engaged in a constant, thrilling struggle for their lives. In fact, every role is perfectly cast, from Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), the new boy who arrives to the maze just like every other boy before him, to Gally (Will Poulter) as the cold-blooded enforcer who makes sure everyone performs their assigned tasks. Then there’s the maze itself, which holds secrets of its own. It’s a fascinating concept, but in big-budget Hollywood movies good ideas are often eclipsed by razzle-dazzle visual effects. Not the case with “The Maze Runner” , which makes it all the more enjoyable, as it has an intriguing premise and the ability to see it through to an unpredictable conclusion.
I’ve heard this story described as a cross between “Lord of the Flies” and “Lost”. That’s not totally inaccurate, but it’s a slick summary of a film made with good skill. I don’t know if credited screenwriters Noah Oppenheim and Grant Pierce Myers simplified Dashner’s novel or made any significant changes, but I do know that the film works on its own terms.
In sum, this movie preaches to its enormous choir of fans and should give them what they want. To my pleasant surprise, I found it intriguing and involving, too.