Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Maze Runner Review

It all starts with a concept. I know that sounds simplistic, but it's true and a shocking amount of films seem to forget that a good one is necessary to tell a compelling story. For example, video games coming down from space and attacking Earth probably wasn't going to be a winner from day one. Then they cast Adam Sandler. But I'll get back to that with my next review...

You need the interesting concept and The Maze Runner has it thanks to a source material by author James Dashner. It's young-adult and it's post-apocalyptic dystopian and those things together are tired to say the least, but at least here the words on the page allowed director Wes Ball and the many others working on the picture to come up with some really fascinating set pieces and the casting didn't hurt either. Sure, not every member of the ensemble nails it, but no one is egregiously bad enough to derail our attention from the good things going on. And yes, plenty of good things happen in The Maze Runner.

While I can't speak for the novel as I haven't read it, the screenplay does fail in regards to characters, all of which are written so paper thin that it is impossible to really give a shit who lives and who dies or even who is in the film at all. On the one hand I want to commend The Maze Runner for not resorting to constant flashbacks to try to provide these characters some depth, as it so often seems that filmmakers feel the way to make us care is to lose all sense of subtlety and repeatedly force us to digest scene after scene after scene of reasons why we should, and it's usually bullshit. I appreciate that the start of this story is so jarring, the ascension of a confused and scared young man towards his fate without giving us rhyme or reason why he is there. In a sense, this makes the audience feel exactly what he is feeling which is a wonderful touch. On the other hand, in order to pull this off the characters need to be written with a measured but meaningful hand to make us truly care, to provide depth through dialogue but this is sorely lacking throughout. 

Also, I couldn't help but feel like The Maze Runner is meant to have some thematic importance yet I couldn't spot it. With The Hunger Games it is clear that the story is a fictional representation of income inequality and our obsession with reality television to an almost deranged level, and while neither of these themes are exactly new or exciting as they have been covered by numerous other previous books and films, at least it did seem to be showcasing a more meaningful narrative than literally what is right in front of us. Is there a point to The Maze Runner? Shouldn't there be a point? Is there one coming in the sequel?

I don't know, I can't quite decide where I land on The Maze Runner. It is a deeply flawed film that at times feels wholly unique and at other times feels painfully familiar, and a whole lot of something felt missing in the end, but I did enjoy it more than the Divergent/Insurgent films. At least I had a bit of fun watching this one, and the ending most certainly left me intrigued enough to see the sequel. 


No comments:

Post a Comment