Thursday Night Movie Club
The Maze Runner
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Release Date: 19 September 2014

Director: Wes Ball
Dylan O'Brien
Aml Ameen
Ki Hong Lee
Blake Cooper
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Will Poulter
Dexter Darden
Kaya Scodelario
Chris Sheffield
Joe Adler
Alexander Flores
Jacob Latimore
Randall D. Cunningham
Patricia Clarkson
Don McManus
PAva Paige
Masked Man
The Maze Runner poster The Maze Runner movie poster The Maze Runner movie poster
The Maze RunnerImagine yourself waking up trapped inside an ascending freight elevator, surrounded by crates, and no idea who you are? When the elevator stops, you find yourself looking up at a strange group of young men who tell you not to panic while they grab you and throw you into a makeshift cage! What would any one do in this situation?

The Maze Runner opens with a major plot twist and doesn't let the audience out of its grip of suspense and terror. There are moments of intense terror. The suspense is palpable. Even on a beautiful sunny day, the young men are shrouded in a cloak of doom. Suicide is not an option. Survival is the only concern. Escape is a long-forgotten dream.

Dylan O'Brien as Thomas in The Maze RunnerNewbie/Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes in a panic only to find himself a prisoner in a strange land with no memories. He doesn't even know his name. Newbie is constantly reminded to relax. The memory of his name will return. In the meantime, he has a lot of catching up to do. The denizens/prisoners/who-knows-what calmly answer Newbie's questions as if they have recited the words way too many times. They have.

Alby (Aml Ameen) was the first inhabitant. He is the leader of the young men. As Thomas settles into his brave new world, Alby senses something different about Thomas. Alby has been consumed by his predicament. He has one rule: Have each others back! Thomas is an anomaly. Thomas is curious about everything. He asks very pertinent questions and is not satisfied with the noncommittal answers he receives.

Foremost in Thomas' thoughts is The Maze! The maze is huge. 100-foot high walls are too high to throw up a rope and grappling hook. The vines aren't strong enough to support a person's weight. The only way out is through the maze. The fastest runners of the young men become Maze Runners. Their job is to run the maze every day looking for an escape route.

Dylan O'Brien and Aml Ameen in The Maze RunnerFor Thomas, the maze is merely a puzzle waiting to be solved. Since through the maze is the only way to escape, Thomas is all guns-blazing-ready to exploit every avenue, take every opportunity, discover every clue. Thomas is an optimist. Everyone else has become a fatalist.

Allegiances are strained. Leadership is questioned. When Alby returns from the maze seriously injured, only Thomas has the nerve to run into the maze to help Alby. Thomas is trapped inside the maze over night with Alby and Minho (Ki Hong Lee). No one has ever survived the night. Thomas not only helps Alby and Minho survive, he has killed one of the creatures patroling the maze. Things like this just do not happen!

Based on the novel by T.S. Nowlin, Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin have written a taut, suspenseful, action-packed film. The film, through Thomas, ask questions. The answers are not satisfactory. They only lead to more questions. Rather than take the easy way out, the writers leave many questions unanswered and leave things open to the audience to interpret.

There are many young men inhabiting this strange world. The writers have carefully given each character his own personality and function within the group. Some of these men carry secrets that can completely destroy the fragile existence if they fall into the wrong hands. Not all of the young men can be trusted. The question becomes, "Who do you believe... Alby or Gally (Will Poulter).

Thomas has his own secrets. He is haunted by fleeting memories that come to him in the form of nightmares. The truth comes as a shock to Thomas. The truth only raises the lid to Pandora's box a little higher. There are more questions than answers.

The Maze RunnerDirector Wes Ball keeps the film running along at a rapid pace. He shoots the film with an overall sense of dread, doom and despair. A sunny day doesn't seem very nice. Serenity is fleeting. Danger lurks behind every tree, rock, nook and cranny. Weighing heavily on each of the young men are the walls of the massive maze. No matter where they look, the maze is all they see. Clouds crossing the sky are a freedom they will never know.

Bell has also shot some truly frightening sequences. Frodo facing Shelob seems like a kids book compared to the monsters of the maze. The men don't fight the monsters. Like the Agents in "The Matrix", when you see a! Run as fast as you can, for as long as you can. Then, run a whole lot more!

Bell does a phenominal job shooting the scenes inside the maze. As massive as the maze is, the overall feeling is an paradoxical sense of claustrophobia as Bell's camera moves through the many twists and turns! When things cannot get worse, they do. The walls twist, turn and rotate to set up different paths through the maze. How do you find a way out of a maze that changes? The Kobayashi Maru strikes again!

Dylan O'Brien and Kaya Scodelario in The Maze RunnerThe young actors are all very good in their respective roles, except for Kaya Scodelario as Teresa. The only reason for her appearance seems to be to raise more questions. Teresa is greeted into the all-male society with open arms and warm hugs. These young men haven't seen a female in a very long time. There must be salt peter in the water to keep their raging hormones in check. Scodelario's performance is the only wooden acting job in the film.

Each of the young male actors does a fantastic job. The actors give each character a very separate, individualist portrayal. The only memory these young men have is their name. Watching the film, names are not important. The actors make their characters words, delivery of lines, gestures, postures and actions more important than their names. The audience does not need to worry about names. The actors develop each character as his own.

The Maze RunnerThere is a major problem with The Maze Runner. Questions. Questions. Questions. There are more questions than answers. As the film rolls along and nears the conclusion, the audience is buried under the growing pile of unanswered questions. The film ends with the audience clearly in line with the young men's thoughts: What in the wide world a sports is a goin' on here?

The slightly better "The Hunger Games" was a stand-alone film with a clear beginning, middle and ending. The Maze Runner is no doubt part of a trilogy in which all questions will be answered by the end of the series. Does anyone remember the movie "I Am Number Four"? The Maze Runner ends in a similar manner leaving the audience guessing. Will The Maze Runner generate enough revenue to warrant making the final two films? Will our questions be answered?