The Maze Runner is 20th Century Fox’s attempt at the current trend in Hollywood to cash in on Young Adult-themed science fiction in a dystopian setting. Coming off the heels of hits like The Hunger Games and Divergent, The Maze Runner is the first story in the trilogy of novels by James Dashner. As such, I thought I would use this review space to compare this first film in the trilogy to another. The Maze Runner versus The Hunger Games (self-titled, not Catching Fire)…sorry Divergent, I haven’t seen you.
The Maze Runner‘s Wes Ball vs. The Hunger Games‘ Garry Ross
The Maze Runner is Wes Balls first major motion picture, but you wouldn’t know it because the visuals and pacing are fantastic.
Garry Ross, on the other hand, directed both Pleasantville and Seabiscuit prior to The Hunger Games. Both great movies, however this slow thoughtful style I feel was not the best choice for the action-paced-with-thought story of the hunger games. Guess that’s why he was replaced for Catching Fire, which is a superior film.
Advantage: The Maze Runner
Dylan O’Brien vs. Jennifer Lawrence
O’Brien is best known for his work on MTV’s Teen Wolf, which probably explains why he is so pretty. He does a decent job, but nothing overly memorable.
The Hunger Games was the beginning of transformation of Lawrence from supporting actress, to Oscar winner and Hollywood Darling. She has cemented herself as one of the best young actresses to be sure.
Advantage: The Hunger Games
Constantly Moving vs. Slow (and not always clear what’s happening)
As discussed in the director category above, The Maze Runner is constantly taking you from one thing to the next. It doesn’t let off the gas and constantly builds upon itself as our characters are forced to leave their safe haven behind and look for a way out of the maze.
In The Hunger Games, it is not always clear what the motivation of the characters is, as things are not always explained. In my opinion, the first movie is lazy in the fact that they know that most of the audience has probably read the highly successful book. This created a sense of an incomplete film in the same way that the last few Harry Potter movies did. This lack of clarity leads to moments where the film feels sluggish as we do not quite understand why something is or isn’t happening.
Advantage: The Maze Runner
ATTEMPT AT EMOTIONAL BUY-IN
Chuck vs. Rue
Chuck is The Maze Runner’s attempt and Rue is The Hunger Games attempt to make the audience feel an emotional draw to the characters. I know Rue works in print and I assume Chuck does as well. Both fail on film as any really connection with them is glossed over quickly to move the story forward.
Visually stunning vs Visually stunning
The Maze Runner fires on all cylinders. Its fast-paced, simple story is perfect for the length of the film. Like the characters, the audience is learning new things with each step of the characters, which helps the film feel entertaining and fun. Many will gripe about the last 15 minutes that set up the next movie, but if you know going into the film that this is the first of a trilogy, you will not be disappointed when you leave the theater with more questions than answers.
While The Hunger Games was an international box office smash hit, as a film alone, it left me wanting. It felt shallow, going through the motions and without a soul. TheY corrected that with the second film in the series.
Advantage: The Maze Runner
So there you have it. For the first movie of a trilogy, The Maze Runner edges out the Hunger games. If you like this type of genre of film, you will enjoy this one.
4 out of 5 stars
By Sasha Glenn
Kids have one heck of an imagination, and “The Maze Runner” gives off the impression that is exactly where its plot came from. The film is an adaption of the first book in the young adult sci-fi series written by James Dashner.
In the film, the action starts right out of the gate with a boy in a cage being delivered up to a strange place. Upon his arrival, he encounters a group of boys, each of which arrived in the same way. The boys created a sort of primitive community in a beautiful green glade. Each boy is assigned a specific role in order to contribute to their survival. None of them are able to remember where they came from or their life before arriving.
The plot quickly begins to revolve around the boys who have been deemed maze runners. The glade in which the community resides is surrounded, or I should say enclosed, by a gigantic stone maze. The maze runners run through the maze trying to find out more about it in order to eventually escape. But, the maze is unsolvable because it changes shape each day and is too dangerous to stay in overnight.
The main protagonist Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) quickly interjects himself into the maze runner role, against the wishes of the community. But it isn’t long until he proves himself capable of the role when he becomes the first boy to kill what they call a “griever.” His arrival marks the beginning of new hope for the boys’ escape. At this point, one must wonder why none of the boys had ever killed a “griever” before the arrival of Thomas.
The “grievers” are cyborg spiders residing within the maze. They are the main threat keeping the boys confined to the glade, and they come off as an incredibly hokey aspect of the film. However, this may be really enjoyable for fans of corny science fiction.
I have not had a chance to read the series myself, but something tells me details were left out of the film which would have brought the quality of the plot up a level.
Unfortunately, the plot is poorly developed in crucial areas which could have made the film great, had they been further developed. For example, the creators of the strange place and the robotic spiders are not given much depth. The lack of detail in this area is what gives the execution of the plot a make-believe feel. Perhaps this part of the plot is purposefully left open to lay the ground work for the rest of the series to be made into film.
All criticism aside, what makes “The Maze Runner” enjoyable is that it stems from a unique idea. It takes the audience on a new adventure. However, I would hardly say the film aims to please a young adult audience. Its execution seems tailored for tweens. It lacks any real graphic violence, staying well within its PG rating.
I give “Maze Runner” 3 out of 5 stars.