"The Maze Runner" Review

Young adult literature seems to be Hollywood’s go to material to start franchises these days. “The Maze Runner” is the newest in the lineup of books turned into films. While there are characters we don’t care about, characters we’re told to care about, and characters who simply serve to push the story forward for the main character...it’s an entertaining, dystopian, sci-fi thriller!

Once a month a new tween or teen comes out of a pit with supplies, and no memory of how they got there. This month, or at the beginning of the film, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in a cage that rises up to the place that the rest of the kids call The Glades. Thomas becomes our eyes in to the world. We meet Alby (Aml Ameen), the leader of the pack of boys, who explains the rules. The number one rule being none other than "don’t go into the Maze." 

As Thomas meets more companions, like second in command Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), the muscle of the group, Gally (Will Poulter), and his young admirer Chuck (Blake Cooper), the only thing that is clear is that everyone follows the rules. Every morning a group called The Runners, led by Minho (Ki Hong Lee), run the maze and memorize it. They report back to the group and try to use their intel to find a way out. Everyone has a role to fulfill in the community. No one questions the rules. Thomas questions them all. As Thomas questions, he finds clues, and the mystery gets deeper. You know the score! 

Soon a new teen is introduced, and it’s a girl! Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) really doesn’t add much to the situation outside of the fact that she seems to know Thomas and brings something with her that could be a game changer. As Thomas soon rises from “greenie” to savior status after slaying a Griever (huge spider-like creatures), the rest of the camp starts to split between those who want to stay “safe” in their confines and those who like Thomas, want a way out.     

You’ve seen the theme of this film before. A savior comes to a group who is teetering on the edge of hopelessness. The dramatic conclusion is intriguing as long as you throw out all of the things that make everything you just watched illogical. Regardless, the film is executed well by director Wes Ball. There are solid performances by O’Brien, Poulter, Lee, and Ameen. Ultimately, once we get past the pleasantries and introduction of the world, it’s a suspenseful ride to the finish line and yes there will be a sequel!

Rating: B

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.