Given the recent craze of dystopian fiction, it’s no surprise that “The Maze Runner,” originally a young adult’s novel, was adapted to fit the cinematic guidelines of an actual film.
Like its predecessors: “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent,” “The Maze Runner” started as a popular fictional work that captured the attention of both the audience and the movie producers.
The story starts with the main character, Thomas, who has no last name as far as we are concerned. He awakens to find himself in a mysterious setting with no recollection of the past, or of his own identity. There are several other boys who find themselves in the same dilemma and the group is forced to explore the new premise, which consists of wide, flat land surrounded on all sides by giant dirt walls. As the title hints, the walls are actually part of a large maze, which the boys begin to navigate.
Although the book was known for its rich character development and exciting, suspenseful plot, the movie seems to be lacking both elements. For one, the film was particularly difficult to understand if one had not read the novel prior to buying a ticket. The plot is not explained or developed in the movie, and the film starts rolling as soon as the curtains open, leaving little time for the audience to comprehend what has happened.
The events in the film abide strictly by those in the book. The opening scene is the same in both the movie and the book, and the film retains many of the dramatic twists found in the book.
One consequence, however, of the movie’s stern adherence to the novel, was that the film appeared dry and mechanical. It blindly followed the events of the book, step by step, without adding its own excitement and twist. As expected, the movie cut out many of the smaller scenes found in the novel, but in doing so it left only the action-packed episodes, which leave little room for character development or building of the plot.
In fact, the entire movie seemed to be composed entirely of dramatic, suspenseful shots, making the film quite repetitive. There was little insight provided on the characters, and while I was attached to the characters in the book, the same emotional connection was absent from the movie.
The plot also seemed rather rushed, as most of the time was spent on crowd pleasers and scenes in the maze. The ending was particularly disappointing because so much information was compressed into such a short amount of time. It was a poor conclusion, but understandable since the movie makers needed to lead up to the second movie and create the background for it. Perhaps the film would have been better if the plot had been developed throughout the movie, instead of only at the end.
The movie was also overwhelming. It leaped from one event to another without allowing room for the audience to breathe in between. As a result, there was little space for the audience to reflect on the events or consider the consequences of the events. The viewers were not involved in the movie as they should have been.
Another disappointing scene was the arrival of the girl, a pivotal event in the novel. In the movie, however, it was sudden and random; there was no plot connected to the girl, and no foreshadowing prior to her appearance as there was in the book. Although she should have been an important character, the movie reduced her to a supporting role.
It seems that emphasis was placed in the wrong locations. The main assets of the novel were the plot and the characters, but the movie chose to focus on the action and suspense instead. And of course there had to be a trade-off.
While the characters were disappointing, the magnificence of the maze was certainly captured. Its mystery and intrigue are displayed from the moment Thomas enters the Glade, and it does a good job of grabbing the audience’s attention.
The characters are exactly as I imagined them, and followed strictly with the descriptions provided in the novel. The scenes are exact as well, and the movie is an accurate portrayal of the book, minus the richness of the plot and character absent from the film.
Overall, the movie was a bit of a disappointment, especially for someone who had previously read the book. The lack of emotional attachment to the characters was an obvious letdown, but the random, unsystematic plot was considerably worse. Although dramatic and action-packed, the film lacked many of the elements that distinguished “The Maze Runner” from other dystopian novels.