When Thomas wakes in a supply-filled box, hurtling up an elevator-like shaft, he finds his memory is a blank slate. He knows nothing — not how or why he got there, or even where here is. He can’t even remember his name.
The box opens upon reaching the top of the shaft and Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is introduced to his new home called the Glade, a camp of sorts, inhabited by a group of teenage boys.
Thomas soon learns that all of the boys arrive at the Glade in the same way, once a month, every month, for the last three years. In that time, they’ve made the Glade their home. They have buildings, gardens, leaders, jobs and three basic rules.
Do your part. Never harm another Glader. And never go into the Maze.
The Maze, as Thomas learns, surrounds the Glade. It’s filled with monsters, Grievers, which are heard but go unseen, and has walls that shift and change every night. The walls around the Glade close tightly at sunset. But beware the one who gets stuck on the outside when night falls.
As Thomas begins to acclimate to his new home, he starts asking questions and pushing the status quo. He remembers his name within a few hours of arriving and the snatches of memories in his dreams hint at something bigger going on.
Then, everything starts changing.
Based on the first book in a dystopian trilogy by James Dashner, “The Maze Runner” is a look at the resilience of teenagers and children in the face of hard circumstances—circumstances not chosen and certainly not asked for.
Much like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent,” the movie begins to explore the limits of human morality when faced with the endangerment of the human race. Just how far is too far?
During the film, the audience learns with Thomas, who is forced to discover the secrets of the Glade and the Maze, without any outside knowledge or additional perspectives from other characters. Although this tends to slow the pace of the movie at some points, the story is punctuated with fast-paced scenes through the Maze. These pulse-quickening chases are further helped by a fantastic soundtrack, written by John Paesano.
The cinematography is beautiful, enhanced by a lovely Louisiana setting, and the graphics are realistic. The Maze is skin-crawlingly creepy and the Grievers’ presence is nothing to desire. The acting, while a bit rough in the beginning, is believable and doesn’t distract from the plot. The characterization, especially for those who have read the book, is spot on.
Several themes run through the movie, including that of resisting limits and pushing change, even when everyone else is happy to exist in comfortable boundaries. Thomas continually asks questions and breaks rules, something none of the others have done, with considerable consequences.
Additionally, the movie stresses the importance of sticking together, the only thing the characters can do to stay alive in their circumstances, and staying true to who one is. As Thomas realizes, it doesn’t matter who anyone was before the Maze. That person is lost and it’s what they do now that matters.
As the first part of a trilogy, “The Maze Runner” mainly sets up the rest of the story. Thus, most of the action, except for the scenes in the Maze, is saved for the end. But what an end it is.
It’s no “Hunger Games,” but “The Maze Runner” had enough action and suspense to stay entertaining. The story promised by the ending is especially exciting, and it will be interesting to see what the sequels will hold. At the very least, it will encourage viewers to read the books — and is that ever a bad thing?
Emily Finlay is a senior journalism major and campus news editor for Cedars. She loves writing, reading, making obscure references in normal conversation and every type of geekery.