The Maze Runner English Movie
Few genres are as equally loved and despised as the Young-Adult (YA) genre of films. Similarly, fewer genres have a more divisive hit-flop record as the YA. For every Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent, there is a Vampire Academy, Mortal Instruments and The Host. There's no telling what will please the young adults of today.
The Maze Runner, the newest entry in this genre, thankfully falls in the former category of hits rather than misses. It helps its cause that it has broader appeal than, say, Vampire Academy and it isn't as desperate for the approval of its target audience so as to solely cater to them.
Like all the other aforementioned films, Maze Runner too has a plot that thinks it's way smarter than it actually is. In this film, people wake up in an abandoned field with absolutely no memory and no apparent escape: they are trapped and doomed to live there and make their living. Their only hope of escape is the adjoining maze that opens its doors every morning, closes them every evening, and changes every night. "Nobody has ever survived a night in the maze". They recite this unwritten rule every time they get a chance, like our old ancestors used to chant prayers to the rain Gods.
But it's what you actually do with that semi-novel-semi-mediocre plot that matters, like with The Hunger Games. The strategy that director Wes Ball and his 3 writers seem to adopt is to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. And it actually works. You're too distracted by so many things that are happening that you're unable to tell what's good and what's rotten.
They waste no time in setting up the premise, with the very first scene itself being set in the maze. There are no silly back stories, no forced romantic tracks and (almost) no wallowing over dead companions. The pace is brisk, they keep piling on the intrigue and doing just about enough to keep you from really thinking about the cons of the film. There are a couple of occasions where the story goes down the wrong road, but it's all to serve the greater purpose and to fuel its climax.
On the not-so-great side of things, a few sequences inside the maze remind you of the Triwizard Cup sequences inside the maze in Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire. The special effects don't dazzle, but are adequate enough to not be a deterrent. Everything's name starts with "The" and has a capitalized first letter ("The Grievers", "The Blades", "The Runners"). The dialogue is passable and not the least bit memorable.
Finally, the climax is completely unsatisfying. It is tasked with explaining the whole film's motive, but at the same time, set up future installments of this potential franchise. It leaves out too many details and it's frustrating to watch a lot of hard work that had been put in before it being squandered in an attempt to make tons and tons of money in the future.
But despite everything, despite having absolutely no expectations from this movie, I found myself liking it more and more as it went on. I found myself playing along, willing to sit back and let the film take me on the ride it has in its mind. And a lot of that has to do with its likable cast, lead by an impressive performance from Teen Wolf's Dylan O'Brien as the hero, the last hope for the people of the tiny, prison-like village.
It has more characters than a wedding in your neighborhood and more twists than there are bones in your body. And yet, the film manages to make it all work for a large part and how. It makes me think, maybe there is still hope for the Young-Adult genre after all.