The Maze Runner (2014)

As summer flicks come and go, some are hated, some are loved, and some just don’t leave a strong enough impression to be remembered. The Maze Runner is the latter. It’s not the disaster I first expected it to be, but it’s not as good as the feedback it’s been getting either. Whether you enjoy it or hate it depends on whether or not you’re a fan of dystopian, arena-like movies.

The story revolves around Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) as he wakes up one day, with no memory of his past life, in a community of boys who claim they are trapped in the center of a gigantic maze. After being introduced to the role each member has to fulfill, Thomas decides he wants to join the runners, the people responsible of exploring the maze that shifts and changes every night.

If you manage to get through a painful first fifteen minutes, the story does actually show promise as we learn that Thomas’ arrival triggered some kind of change to the way the maze works. You start asking yourself questions and start build expectations for what’s next.

However, that potential wears out fast, and the more you know about Thomas, the maze, and the Grievers, the less interested you become. As minutes go by, the plot gets more and more predictable, and the questions that may have sounded intriguing at first lead to dull, unimaginative answers.

The Maze Runner is predictable from minute one all the way to the credits. Everything said and done by the boys, the people who put them there and the Grievers can be seen coming a mile away. Not once does the movie surprise us, except, perhaps, when we notice the amount of cliché phrases pronounced by the characters.

The characters themselves were uninteresting. Given the context where none of them remembers anything, it is understandable not to know anything about them, but you’d still expect something –anything- that may help us qualify them as somewhat unique. Instead, we get complete strangers in front of us, with the familiar, even repetitive, roles of the leader, the jerk, the friend, the weakling, the girl, and the chosen one.

Luckily, things get slightly better as the actors and director manage a better job than the writers. With the exception of Will Poulter, whose character and performance were agonizing to watch, the youngsters deliver good enough performances to get you through the movie. Directing isn’t really impressive but it is what you would expect in a movie like this one, so it gets a passing grade.

The Verdict

With OK actors and director, The Maze Runner manages to save itself from turning into a disaster. The story does show promise at some point, but everything falls short due to dreadful storytelling. You may enjoy it if you’re a fan of the genre, but I wouldn’t get my hopes very high.

Rating: 4.5/10. Dreadful storytelling killed an actually promising flick.

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