I’ve been disappointed a lot of times before after watching a movie adaptation of a book that I have read. However, I’ve never been this disappointed after watching The Maze Runner. Based on the first book in the young adult post-apocalyptic trilogy of James Dashner, The Maze Runner failed to capture the energy, the confusion and the atmosphere of the book.
The movie is about Thomas, a teenage boy brought into an isolated place surrounded by gigantic, moving walls called the Glade. These moving walls make up the seemingly unsolvable maze, which is plagued by deadly mechanical creatures called Grievers. Gladers, the other teenage boys who have stayed in the Glade for a month to a few years, have been running around the maze to search for a way out. Suddenly, things started changing ever since Thomas has arrived. Does this mean he will lead the way out for the Gladers, or instead bring them doom as the people who sent them finally want results, no matter what these may be?
In the book, Thomas started out and felt as a real outcast in the Glade. The other teenage boys displayed varying attitudes towards him, and it’s only after some time that he either made strong connections that grew into real friendships or did things that truly irate some of them. I was surprised to know that these did not really come alive in the film. Thomas and the other Gladers acted a lot different. It’s good to know, though, that they still managed to bring out the terms Gladers use that are unique to their place (e.g. Greenie, shuck-face). Moreover, the magnitude that entails having these teenage boys into a place where nobody knows and having no memory whatsoever of the past as felt in the book is lost in translation in the movie. Redundant dialogues plagued what could have been simpler and more thoughtful conversations between the characters. The emotions seemed too low, even when they’re being shown to be celebrating. Honestly, none of the actors really impressed in acting out their roles. Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf) may have done his best to live up Thomas but he’s not really able to show it well by embodying the gravity of the worsening condition of the Glade as he was supposed to. This should partly be blamed as well to the director, Wes Ball, who may have lacked a vision of how to run mystery suspense-thrillers like this. In O’Brien’s defense, I liked how he acted out in a lot of scenes especially that one standout scene towards the end. Ki Hong Lee who portrayed Minho failed to show the smartness and confidence of his character. Aml Ameen (Alby) and Kaya Scodelario (Teresa) are both forgettable. The two who are close to portraying what they are supposed to portray are Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the friendly Newt and Will Poulter as the angst-riddled Gally.
In all fairness to the movie, it is surprisingly fast-paced and because of this, it is far from boring. Moviegoers who haven’t read the book may have liked it just as it is even though a lot of changes have been done. To me (and probably the rest of the readers of the book), though, this fast pacing doesn’t matter because of the frustration I ended up having. Moreover, because of the lacking elements of the film (that extra punch, that missing tone and spirit), it seemed like it’s not entirely sure of what it is. Well, that’s pretty much like the book wherein the author seemed to be confused as to where his story was going or leading. The direction of the story seemed clear, but the steps on going there are blurred.
I’m still reading The Scorch Trials, the second book of the trilogy, but I do hope that its movie adaptation will not just be faithful but also be a lot better than The Maze Runner. I really don’t want to get very disappointed again.
The Maze Runner’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 2.5 out of 5