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The Maze Runner - DVD Review

The Maze Runner

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE latest adaptation of a young adult novel is, arguably, symptomatic of the worst of Hollywood’s new penchant for franchise film-making.

Based upon the best-selling novels by James Dashner and clearly designed with a trilogy in mind, this takes a decent early premise and slowly drains the life out of it without even bothering to deliver a satisfying conclusion or enough answers to make the journey worthwhile.

Indeed, it’s almost as if studio executives are now asking cinema-goers to undertake the same leap of faith that accompanies the majority of high profile American TV series… namely, sign on for a show that poses questions and hope you get the answers before any cancellation.

In The Maze Runner‘s case, a strong showing at the US box office has already pushed a sequel into production. But that shouldn’t disguise the many problems that exist here.

The story throws you into the action from the very first frame as a teenager named Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakes to find himself trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys.

He has no memory of how he got there, other than strange dreams about a mysterious organisation that may have been carrying out tests on him. But as he attempts to make sense of it all and find a way out, he must also prove himself to the other boys, while surviving the maze itself and the creatures that occupy its halls by night.

To be fair, Wes Ball’s film has plenty to intrigue and even excite during its early establishing scenes, where viewers will be trying to catch up and piece things together as quickly as young Thomas.

But once things settle down and the movie starts to follow the same kind of patterns as countless other Young Adult adaptations (factions, dystopian futures, sinister governing organisations, etc), boredom begins to set in.

In trying to establish the film’s world, Ball loses sight of most of its characters, which is especially dispiriting in the cases of British youngsters Will Poulter and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as, respectively, one of Thomas’ enemies and allies. But it also means that the film fails to deliver the emotional pay-off its later developments were undoubtedly hoping for.

Rather, the third act is diabolically bad. Rather than opting for any kind of closure, Ball and company have gone for a scenario that not only poses more questions than answers, but one that renders most of what has gone before to be absolutely nonsensical. The cliffhanger, meanwhile, feels like a slap in the face and scant reward for the patience required in getting there (the film clocks in at just under two hours).

Hence, whatever excitement and tension those early scenes posed, The Maze Runner eventually becomes a long and empty experience that actually feels quite insulting to those that have taken the time to try and unlock its secrets. And while a sequel may be on the way, it’s not something to really look forward to.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 113mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 9, 2015