Yet another Harry Potter/Lord of the Flies/1984 wannabe wanders into theaters

Good lord, another one…

The Maze Runner is yet another young adult franchise start-up centering around a young protagonist trying to save the world from evil adults. This movie promised a few more twists, but it absolutely does not deliver.

The movie tries to add themes about post-pubescent tension and fear of leaving home, but it’s about as heavy-handed as Donkey Kong. At one point someone literally asks how girls work. Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox.

It follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brein) as he rises from The Box. The Box takes him to the center of The Glade, where he is greeted by The Gladers, who tell him nothing about where he is or how he got there. The audience already knows what they are refusing to explain — they have been trapped at the center of a shifting maze filled with Greavers, freak-tacular giant spider looking things that are fortunately nocturnal, by unknown watchers and none of them can remember anything — but the film spends a good hour-hour and 15 minutes before it gets to parts of the plot that aren’t necessarily known by every viewer who saw even one trailer.

While everything in the promotional material makes sense and is quite appealing when put together, the other plot details are completely nonsensical. The boys are some of the worst communicators ever filmed, there’s this whole weird thing that happens when someone gets Stung*, they’ve established a caste system to fit in with other young adult novels’ bizarre obsession with caste systems…

The Gladers’ main goal is to get out, and one of the ways they try to do that is to remember why they were sent there in the first place, thinking that maybe their memory could hold the key. But late in the movie, Thomas remembers everything, and then doesn’t debrief, doesn’t apply any of his new-found knowledge and acts surprised when the big bad shows up and explains everything.

Also, the big bad’s plot is stupid beyond description.

This is very much a film that relies on all of its characters having sub-moronic IQ, and that’s a personal peeve of mine. There’s some great, tense early sequences and Thomas’ first encounter with a Greaver is awesome. But there’s just as many budget-smashing, kill-every-extra-onscreen sequences.

Even those may be a viewer’s cup of tea. This movie definitely has appeal beyond its book audience, which should feel betrayed by how different the movie is.

But without any context, these otherwise entertaining action scenes feel like a Mustang with no wheels — it’s got the horsepower, but it’s got no way to put it down.

As with every single one of these damn series, the sequels are built in. The Scorch Trails is already greenlit for Sept. 18, 2015, less than a year after this film’s release.

Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and news editor for the NT Daily. I hate Austin, it’s too perfect of a city. For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at reelentropy@gmail.com. At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for.

*They don’t establish it’s Greavers that do the Stunging until late in the film, but they do establish that no one even knows what the things look like because they’re so deadly no one’s even seen them and lived. One, these two pieces of information directly contradict each other and two, it’s extremely confusing because you don’t know where the stings come from. Greavers are too deadly, so they’re ruled out, but there’s nothing else it could be. This is exactly the kind of hilariously awful conveyance that makes The Maze Runner such an unwatchable clusterfuck.

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