With any teen action/fantasy film, there are always going to be comparisons to the very obvious Twilight, Divergent and the box office Phenomenon that is The Hunger Games – all film franchises adapted from highly acclaimed books aimed initially at the teen market.
Like many of these successful franchises, The Maze Runner is a trilogy also with prequel to follow, this one written by James Dashner.
The plot? Well to no real surprise, again we have a lead character thrown into a situation out of their control, where they have to battle against all odds for survival using sheer willpower and strength of character – also seen in past classics Lord Of the Flies and Battle Royale.
This time the lead is Thomas, played by Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien, who wakes up dazed and confused in a sort of commune, after being shot up in an elevator from below the surface. He then meets an assortment of his predecessors, all of whom have awoken up to the same nightmare scenario previously – where they have learned to live by certain rules surrounded by the very ominous Maze of the title.
Without going into the story too much – the film then deals with Thomas’s struggle with following the rules of the commune, led by Gally, played by the very versatile Will Poulter (who would have thought this rubber faced known comedy actor could play the villain of the piece so well?), Thomas, staying true to his nature, is intrigued and does not want to live in the very controlled existence he finds himself in and rebels against the Status Quo, gradually building up the support of some of his peers and becomes a maze runner, where he can then explore why he is in the situation he finds himself in.
One of the reason these film franchises are resonating with the public are that they are in effect science fiction movies aimed at the teen market, where teenagers, or anyone who ever was a teenager, can identify and relate with the normal teen angst of learning to fit in, seeking alliances with your peers, whilst struggling for survival (self-identity).
This film has a rawness to it, a bit like The Hunger Games with a much lower budget. This is evident at times where some of the CGI is questionable, but with good soild performances from the young cast, and a decent plot this is not an issue. Also very good to see such is a strong supporting young British cast (Poulter, along with Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Kaya Scodelario as the female interest).
Whilst the film looks raw and very much close to nature, there are clues within the film that point to something more sinister manipulating behind the scenes – think Hunger Games and Cabin In The Woods. Presumably we’ll find out more in the planned sequels.
Overall Verdict: The Maze Runner won’t meet the colossal box office or critical acclaim of Twilight or The Hunger Games but will become a somewhat successful series, and I for one am looking forward to the sequel.
Reviewer: Stephen Sclater