The best of the Hunger Games clones so far, The Maze Runner, give us appealing characters, an intriguing premise and some fine special effects work. Director Wes Ball has moved from helming intimate independent films to crafting this modestly budgeted, but polished production, based on a YA book series. Dylan O’ Brien announces himself as a fresh new face on the scene, who is capable of sustaining a lead role in a blockbuster film.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakens to find himself trapped in an idyllic lush valley, surrounded by kids his own age. In fact, they are the only inhabitants of the ‘Glade’, marooned there by massive giant walls that hide cement mazes within. Every night the configuration changes and dreaded four-legged spider-like creatures hunt for any living thing roaming the maze after dark.
Those that have been in the Glade the longest are most cautious but, Thomas’ curiosity and inherent need for freedom compel him to enter the maze to save a lost peer. This act of courage cause strife within the power structure among the boys. It also starts a revolution, as a group of six enter the maze and try to get behind their captors’ motives.
At it’s best, The Maze Runner is momentarily captivating, it’s like a really good episode of Lost. Alas, much similar to that program’s demise, Runner gets less interesting the more it reveals. But, the filmmakers do provide us with some exciting set-pieces and the cast of young actor’s make the Lord of the Flies clichés less awkward than might have been the case, otherwise.
Director: Wes Ball
Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster