The Maze Runner Film Review

Having recently read and enjoyed the fast paced dystopian adventure that was The Maze Runner, I was looking forward to the release of it’s film adaptation with impatient enthusiasm (and secretly scowling jealously at the American bloggers who were able to see it earlier than the UK). So a couple of weeks ago I snoozed through my early lectures, met my friend and we raced for the train, just managing to catch it in time to allow us to make the midday showing with an overflowing bucket of popcorn. So, did The Maze Runner live up to my expectations? Hmm….well… *puffs out cheeks with air* yes, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
Side Note: I’ve tried to write this so it will make sense to people who both have and haven’t read the book but I will, inevitably be making a few comparisons. 🙂

The Maze Runner Movie
The Plot
Yeah, I’m lazy so I’m totally going to nick the bookish blurb I already created for the book:

When Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakes and is welcomed into a glade consisting entirely of boys he has no memory of his life, his family or the world outside. When he tries to reach for answers all he finds is fuzzy faces and fragmented conversations, although he has the strange sensation he has been in the glade before. The boys have created a mini-society and to survive, order is vital. Everyone has their place – as butchers, cleaners but most importantly runners who go out each day to search the maze that surrounds the Glade, keeping them trapped. Every day the runners risk their lives looking for salvation and must make it back to camp by nightfall before the walls to the Glade close, leaving the runners trapped with ferocious, blood thirsty creatures named Grievers. Yet against all logic Thomas knows one thing, he wants and needs to be a runner with every fiber of his being, and he’s determined to find a way out of the maze once and for all.

The Verdict
The Maze Runner was gripping from the very first scene. As soon as Thomas is propelled into the Glade, a patch of grass surrounded by and immense and ever-changing maze, the watcher is bombarded with compelling questions. Why is Thomas there? Who put him there? Why can’t he remember anything? The first half of the film is a muddle of intrigue and confusion as Thomas learns to function and understand his new environment. Although it felt a little info dumpish at points, I ultimately think the film does a great job of orienting the watcher in such a short space of time.

The scenery and CGI made the film feel so atmospheric – the immense claustrophobic walls surrounding the boys from every side, the odd homely farm feel of the Glade where the boys had created their home, and of course, the eerie isolated feel inside the maze which I found absolutely fascinating! All my favourite parts of the film were when the characters were searching it, running from danger or looking for a way out. I often found myself diving left and right in my sticky cinema seat as if I were trying to run fast around the corners with Thomas. I couldn’t believe how real and well thought out it was, all the sections of the maze had their own quirks and were visually different, some sections even moved in different ways as well. I loved the attention to detail and it really captured my imagination, often I would find myself repeating the word ‘awesome’ under my breath in some of the particular gripping action scenes. I also think the effects team did a decent job with the monsters named Grievers based on the elusive descriptions from the book. While they weren’t as terrifying they were well thought out and impressive!

The-Maze-Runner-movie-image

I must admit having read the book so close to seeing the movie I did feel like I was getting a bit of whiplash. The film had some MAJOR plot changes which really confused my brain and I wasn’t totally sure how to feel about them. Some big, important things were left out and some entirely new plot points were put in, some of which seemed like sneaky shortcuts (like the awkward introduction of the antidote serums). I tried to keep my bookworm brain in check and repeat my mantra that ‘books and films are separate’ but at times it did honestly feel like I was watching an entirely different story with the same concept. However, the movie did also add in some cool additional touches that weren’t in the book. I liked the idea of the wall where the boys carved their names – to me it reflected an innate need for the Gladers to mark their existence, and it also acted as a practical way of remembering everyone who had entered the Glade. Ultimately, the plot was fun and entertaining even with the changes and if I rewatch the film in six months time, I’ll probably be less critical of it because the book won’t be so fresh in my mind!The-Maze-Runner-movie-image

I was somewhat disappointed with the acting in The Maze Runner. Initially Dylan O’Brien seemed like a perfect casting pick for Thomas, the unassuming, approachable hero of the tale, and well, it helps that he’s pretty easy on the eyes too. 😉 However, as much as I enjoyed getting to stare at his lovely face for 2-ish hours I was underwhelmed by his performance. I’m not sure why because he didn’t do anything in particular that stood out to me but I never warmed to his character. I felt like he was lacking an element of sincerity in his dialogue, it was almost like I didn’t quite believe what was coming out of his mouth. His protective, friendly side seemed at odds with the more aggressive authoritative side that came out as the film progressed and I never fully became emotionally invested in his story.

Teresa, (Kaya Scodelario) the girl who arrived in the Glade and caused chaos from order also underwhelmed me, because of some of the plot changes her presence in the Glade almost seemed completely pointless. She didn’t really provide any help or knowledge that could help the boys figure out what was going on, and didn’t even have that many lines. I also didn’t feel a connection between her and Thomas at all, which was one of the most important aspects of the book! I found myself disappointed with Minho’s character (Ki Hong Lee) too, he seemed to have so much wit and presence in the novel, but in the film he just seemed to fade into the background except when he became a plot point.

Some of the secondary characters made more of an impression such as Alby (Aml Ameen) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), but as far as the acting was concerned there was one big standout for me, Gally played by Will Poulter. His character was given so much more depth than it received in the book because they turned him into a much more sympathetic baddie. I found his thought processes and motivations for taking a dislike to Thomas and wanting to keep order in the maze impressive, and became more caught up in his storyline than the main protagonists! There was something quite magnetic and impressive about his performance. (Also, I found myself weirdly fascinated by his eyebrows, don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy with such oddly arched ones. Don’t judge me!) 😛

The Maze Runner Gally

Ultimately, The Maze Runner was fast paced fun. It’s a movie where you can sit back, relax, and switch off your brain for a couple of hours and enjoy all the adventure and action that ensues. The sets and CGI are atmospheric, the plot fast paced and the mystery of how the Gladers will get out of the maze will keep you glued to the screen. I wouldn’t call it a must see because I found myself lacking an element of emotional investment and the story didn’t really have a lasting effect on me once I exited the cinema, but it’s well worth checking out if your into dystopia. Rating-wise I give it a tentative 4!

Originality: 4/5
Entertainment: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cinematography: 4/5
CGI (
Computer-Generated Imagery): 4/5
FANGIRL FACTOR: 3/5

Overall: 4/5

Have  you seen The Maze Runner yet? Did it live up to your expectations? I would love the hear what you thought! 🙂

 

Image Sources:
Maze Runner Poster.
Stills 1 and 2.
Still 3.

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27 thoughts on “The Maze Runner Film Review

  1. I agree with everything you’ve said. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the main characters either. Especially when they took out a major thing between Thomas and Teressa. Without that, like you said, she felt so pointless. When people watch the film without having read the book, they’ll think “Oh, hey, a girl. Strange. What is she doing there?” whereas in the books she’s a key element to figure things out.
    Gally was the big surprise! I didn’t expect a lot from him but I ended up caring about him and wanting to know more. They changed so many key elements that the dynamic changed. :/
    I was disappointed with the Grievers. I’m not sure what I expected but I was waiting for a rolling ball with spikes or something? :p
    I liked the film a lot and I’ll probably watch it again. It kept me on edge even if I knew the story and that’s a good thing.
    Great review! 🙂

    • Phew, I’m SO glad it wasn’t just me! I felt like a right meenie saying that O’Brien didn’t work for me, especially as I was expecting to love him in the part but yes, I completely agree.
      Yes, exactly! I’m sure a lot of people did wonder what the point of Teressa part was, she kind of turns up, says a few words and then fades into the background, they definitely downplayed her part. I wonder if they will bring in that big ‘thing’ they left out in the second film? Hmm..
      Yes, they changed Gally’s part quite a lot, but I also think they built on some of his existing characteristics in the book and emphasized them further to make him even more interesting. 🙂 The dynamic changing is the perfect way of describing it.
      Ahh, yes. I always though it would be tough the create the Grievers on screen! I definitely didn’t find them scary in the movie like I did in the book but I think they did a reasonable job considering.

      Thank you!

  2. I completely agree with everything you’ve written. I also just finished the 3rd book when I went to the cinema (actually kind of wanted to forget the details of The Maze Runner so I wouldn’t be disappointed in the movie. As you said, being it so fresh in your mind, it kinda disappoints you, because of the MAJOR leftouts of some of the scenes. So overall I totally agree with what you’ve said.

    • Thanks, I’m glad you agree. 🙂 Yes, it’s always such a problem when you read the book so close to seeing the film because it’s so difficult to ignore all the little things they change and judge the film alone! Sorry to hear you were a bit disappointed as well, maybe when we next watch it we’ll enjoy it a little more? Here’s hoping. 🙂

  3. You pretty much summarized my feelings exactly, except that I didn’t like the guy who played Gally. As we have discussed already, knowing him as the goody character from Meet the Millers, I just couldn’t take him seriously in this role :).

  4. Really liked your review – I’m always interested to see what you think of book to film translations, as I think you do a good job of splitting out the strengths and weaknesses of the two mediums 🙂 As an ex-literature and film student, I try and do the same thing (with mixed results!)

    I’ve got the book in my TBR pile and have seen the trailer, which looks good – now the thing I’m on the fence about is which to go for first. I tend to find it easier to do the film before the book sometimes, it then seems like the book gets to add more depth and the changes are easier to absorb because I can take my time getting through the pages, whilst a film is all at someone else’s pace. What do you think first, book, film, film, book…? 🙂

    • Awwh, thank you so much, Mel. 🙂 I do find it harder to review films in comparison to books so that’s why now I only tend to review book adaptations rather than any old film. I like comparing them and seeing how they change. 🙂 I didn’t realise you were an ex film student, that’s pretty cool!

      Oooh that’s a toughie. Usually I’m always a book before the movie kind of girl, so to read the book first would be my instinctual reaction. But if you’ve done it the other way round successfully then I don’t think it actually matters too much. Like I mentioned, the storylines are actually quite different, but the book certainly has more intricate details that were left out. So maybe film first, book second?

  5. I have a lot of the same opinions. I also thought Will Poulter was amazing. And my husband and I call him ‘Eyebrows’ because of the odd arch. I was really underwhelmed with Theresa but Thomas didn’t bother me as much. I didn’t like how they took the puzzle out of the plot because that proved to me that the characters were as smart as they kept saying they were. Taking it out removed their intelligence for me and they seemed more like big tough guys than smart kids. I did a post on this a while ago and I’d say it mirrors yours pretty well.

    • Ha, ha, okay, I’m glad it’s not just me that had the weird obsession with the eyebrows! Love your nickname. 🙂
      Yes, I was so underwhelmed with Theresa as well, I didn’t feel anything strongly about her at all, good or bad. Her role just seemed so pointless. I missed the puzzle thing too! I did wonder whether they took it out because they didn’t want to deal with the complexity of making it, or the budget.
      Sorry to hear you were disappointed with a few aspects of the story like me!

  6. I’m enjoying these film reviews you’re throwing into your blog. You should really write these things for a living!

    I remember seeing Will Poulter in the Voyage of the The Dawn Treader (best Narnia book and a great film), and being absolutely mesmerised by his Vulcan eyebrows. My wife says Danny Elfman’s look the same (Google him, and you’ll see what she means).

    What’s that? The film? Oh I haven’t seen it. 🙂 I think I’ll add it to my film TBR (TBS?) list though!

    • Thanks Tony, glad to hear you’re enjoying them! I used to write quite a few film reviews when I first started but then I got out of the habit after a while, so I’m trying to bring them back to the blog again. Trust me, I WISH I could write these things for a living how awesome would that be? 🙂

      Vulcan eyebrows, PERFECT description! So glad to hear I wasn’t the only one getting distracted by the weird anomaly of his eyebrows. I wonder if they’re natural or if he has them shaped to look weird, hmm…

      Knowing your thoughts on the book, I will be interested to see what you make of the film adaptation!

  7. Saw Maze Runner, and really enjoyed it 🙂 I read the book a few years ago, so I didn’t remember much about it — made the movie a lot easier to watch, lol. Here’s a fun story you might enjoy: so going into the movie, I had no idea who any of the actors were. I was just going because I’d read and enjoyed the book. Then, after the movie, a girl sitting in front of me mentioned one of the actors in the movie was also in the TV show Teen Wolf. So I was like, heck, let’s give the show a shot. Watched it all the way through, loved it, and then sat back and went, “Okay, awesome show, but which actor was also in Maze Runner?” Went back, watched the movie trailer, and realized it was the LEAD ACTOR in Maze Runner. My mind was completely blown. I guess chalk it up to my horrible facial recognition? Lol. Now I can’t watch the trailer without wanting to smack myself for not recognizing Dylan O’Brien 😀

    • Glad to hear you liked the film, Michelle. 🙂 Ahh you see, that’s a much better way of doing it! Reading the book so close to the film is usually a recipe for disaster in my eyes because you’re bound to make all the more comparisons.

      Aha! LOVE your little anecdote, so funny. I hadn’t actually seen O’Brien in anything before watching this but I was aware of his fanbase from Teen Wolf. Glad to hear you enjoyed the series because I’ve been wondering whether I should give it a go. 🙂 Considering you only watched The Maze Runner once, It’s probably understandable that you didn’t recognise him; we’re much better at identifying faces of people we know (whether in real life or in celeb world) and I’m sure his role in Teen Wolf was probably a lot more memorable as well!

      • Definitely, and it also helped that he’s in basically every episode of Teen Wolf, so I was watching his face for hours and hours on end. Whereas the movie was but a brief flash in the pan in comparison. Give Teen Wolf a shot! As I was explaining to my friend, it’s a bit campy, and a bit silly, and it starts out okay, but if you give it a few episodes, it really grows on you — and it gets better with each season!

      • Yes, so true. Plus, there was so much going on in The Maze Runner that there wasn’t much time to take in the details of how everyone looked!
        Thanks Michelle, base on what you’ve said I think I will give Teen Wolf a shot, it sounds like a lot of fun and I like anything with an element of the supernatural 🙂

        Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, I’m sorry my replies were so delayed!

  8. Your review makes me want to run out to the nearest cinema and watch this. I haven’t read the book though I’ve been hearing a lot of about both book and movie the past month or so.

  9. I totally agree with everything that was written here. (mostly) It’s been a while since I saw the movie, but I do recall Teresa’s character not being as significant in the movie as it was in the book. Also the chemistry between her and Thomas wasn’t there. I’m pretty sure time constraints hurt them there, but still they could have done better. (Way better!) This review was totally on point. I hope the Scorch Trials will be better. I love that they gave Gally more depth instead of him being a total jerk. They should have toned down Thomas’ aggressive/leader role in the movie. Then maybe Minho and Newt would have had more presence like they did in the novel.

    Great work!

    • Thanks Dream Spirit. 🙂
      Yes, Teresa’s character was a big problem for me. I seem to recall you telling me that I would be annoyed with her portrayal in the film and you were right! Her character as a whole seemed so flat to me. Yes, time constraints were definitely an issue, that’s one of the main reasons I ignored a lot of the changed because I could tell they were trying to get the depth and pacing right. The majority of the time it worked, but there were also a few places where it didn’t for me, but again, maybe that’s because I read the book so close to seeing the movie.

      Yes, I’m so interested to see what they will do with The Scorch Trials. 🙂

  10. Dylan has a habit of acting the same in every role – like his mannerisms etc were the same as they are in Teen Wolf, which means I never reeeeally believe he’s any other character than Stiles so yeah. But he is a beautiful, beautiful human. (have you seen First Time? he’s in it and that’s an A+ film to watch for him being eye candy)
    Also Kaya, as stunning as she is, was not a good fit for this (although I can see her playing it well in the scorch trials, so maybe that’s a critique for the film rather than her).

    • Yeah, I get that impression! I hadn’t seen him in anything until a week before I went to see this film (it was the film about Google, can’t remember what it was called) but yeah, he definitely had the same mannerisms and didn’t seem to change much acting-wise so agree with you there. I’ve been wondering whether I should give Teen Wolf a go for a while. 🙂 Haha, he sure is a beautiful human. Chiseled and perfectly formed with a cocky smart-ass half smile! Never heard of First Time so thanks for the rec! Will keep an eye out. (Sidenote: just looked it up and OHH NO, IT HAS THAT HORRIBLE BLONDE ACTRESS IN IT THAT CAN’T ACT, WAA).

      I don’t know about Kaya and whether she was any good in the part because I don’t really think she was given enough chance to prove anything. Her character seemed pointless.

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