OKLAHOMA CITY – A few weeks ago, I watched The Maze Runner with Chris, Brazle and Nick. It was my second favourite movie of the summer after Guardians of the Galaxy. Though most people might think of it as a Hunger Games knock-off, I submit that it is different enough to be worthy of a place at whichever table it is at which Hunger Games is.
I recommend it to any audience, and I would especially recommend it to parents looking for a movie to see with their kids. I would prescribe caution for children under 13, though. The film is rated PG-13, and I’d say that’s a pretty good guideline in this case.
Okay, so moving forward, here are the general impressions I have of the movie:
- It has pretty settings. The film is somewhat reminiscent of the Hunger Games flicks in that the plot focuses on young adults fighting for survival in a natural setting mixed with elements clearly engineered by someone/something. In The Maze Runner, the two main settings are the Glade and the Maze. The Glade almost feels like a miniature natural park and is where the kids live. The Maze is a giant structure surrounding the Glade on all four sides. It has an old, worn, lived-in feeling akin to jungle ruins or something of that ilk. These two elements combine to make the film very aesthetically appealing.
- The acting is neither good nor bad. So, since nearly the whole cast is comprised of teens/twentysomethings, it was always going to be hard to make this thing an acting masterpiece. And masterpiece it isn’t. But, the actors aren’t completely terrible. They’re effective and ultimately good enough to get the job done. And really, to be honest, the compelling reason to watch The Maze Runner is the story, so as long as the actors didn’t mess it up, things were a-okay.
- The casting is pretty solid. Even though the acting isn’t like the second coming of The King’s Speech, the casting was super solid. All the main characters were very well chosen – the annoying guy, the Asian runner, the pip squeak tagalong, the group leader….they all just looked right for the part. Of course, while having the right look is a crucially important thing, it doesn’t guarantee the person with the right look will have the right accent. Iwis, despite the aesthetically commendable casting…..
- One character’s accent is hit-and-miss. I’ll let you figure out which one, but let’s just say that there’s someone who’s supposed to be an American who lets slip a nice healthy British accent at least once or twice. Does that really matter? No, but I feel like you should know. I mean, seriously.
- There are a few facepalm moments. What I mean is, there are a few moments of such blatant exposition, clumsy scripting, or discontinuity that I found myself burying my face in my hand, mystified that such elements could be in a high-budget film. Somehow, strangely, that stuff isn’t enough to destroy the viewing experience. I guess the pacing and overall direction, not to mention the story, are good enough to carry the day.
- The ending is pretty thrilling. I won’t go into it, obviously, but the ending is pretty cool, fulfilling, and unexpected. And I can’t wait for the sequel.
- The story is really good. As I’ve already mentioned, The Maze Runner’s strength is the story. Despite the facepalm moments, despite the accent gaffes, and despite the not stellar acting, the sheer creativity and pace of the story makes this a highly recommended movie. Will everyone love it? I don’t know, but I feel that more will like it than not.
So there you go. The Maze Runner is solid. I think it has set the stage nicely for a couple of sequels to which I am looking forward. Go see it in theaters if you can.