Review: The Maze Runner
Even though summer is over, the movie dates with my amazing sons continue. Last Sunday’s movie of choice – The Maze Runner. The younger twin read this book last year and hasn’t stopped pestering everyone he knows to read it – including me and his brother. We didn’t read it yet (oops) but couldn’t resist going to see it anyway, breaking my “Read the book before seeing the movie” personal rule. And I’m so glad we didn’t wait!
My Personal Take
Woo hoo, WHAT A RIDE! I admit, I was a bit skeptical. Teen movies based on novels haven’t been well done in my eyes (Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent) and I think part of that is that they might be geared to what Hollywood thinks teen girls want to see. I know plenty of people who like those movies and I agree there are parts that are good (personally, I’m a huge fan of vampire baseball, female archers and women who refuse to let society define them). But this movie? Kick-ass, start to finish.
As I said, I broke my own rule and watched the movie before I read the book. But, you can be sure I’m going to read it now – along with the two sequels and the prequel. I liked not knowing what was going to happen since I hadn’t read the book and I was as breathless in anticipation as my non-reading son. The son who read it was dying to see certain scenes done the “right way” and for the most part I think he was happy with the outcome.
My Sons’ Take
While writing this, my boys asked if they could add their two cents to the mix. Well, yeah boys. Of course you can! That would be really helpful actually. So…here’s what they say:
Son #1 – Non-reader (of this book)
Action-packed, scary, funny – all in the same movie! It definitely left you hanging, wondering what would happen next. You are left wanting to know more about the characters – what they were like before the glade, how they were chosen, why they were all there. It gets you geared up to watch the next movie (or read the next book)!
Son #2 – Reader (of this book)
The movie was an all-around well-done movie and mostly resembled the book. But, if you want the full story, you should read the book! The final escape was different from the book but they basically got it right. the book ending was better, so you need to read it. (Mom note: Yes…this is what we’ve been living with since we saw the movie – “Read the book!” He’s very passionate about this point.)
Here there be spoilers…read at your own risk
Whether or not this movie matches the book, I decided I didn’t care. Because this was VERY well done. There are shades of Lord of the Flies in here plus some intense action sequences, interpersonal relations and an entire glade full of amnesia-stricken teen boys who have no idea what to make of a single teen girl being added to their mix. A few of the one-lines thrown out about Teresa were awesome – “Girls rock.” and “Are all girls like this?” were some that had everyone laughing.
I really liked how they handled the lone teen female character. Some movies would have made her scared, helpless, confused – a singular entity of femininity in a world of male teens isn’t an easy place to find yourself. Yet, from the moment she wakes up, she’s fighting against the boys and then fighting with them. She’s the one who’s not squeamish about injecting Alby with the life-saving serum, she is the first to agree with Thomas that they should go into the maze to escape and she even figures out to throw what is essentially a Molotov cocktail at an attacking Griever. And never once do you hear a girly scream while the boys fight or see a clingy scared girl – she’s in the thick of it from start to finish. And you never see any of the boys eyeing her suggestively or trying to get in her pants. She’s just immediately one of the group even if “She’s the last one. Ever”. They made her a show of force and strength in a male-dominated movie and will be a good role-model for girls who agree to see it.
Dealing with death was a big conversation point in this movie – from wondering if the leader, Alby, would live, to the crossing off of names etched into the side of the maze and even the forced maze death of a boy who had been “stung” (I never quite understood the “stung” reference). There’s even a point where one of the boys thinks that sacrificing Thomas & Teresa to the maze will put things back to “normal”. The way the boys band together on the sides of “back to normal” versus “escape through the maze” is what made me feel like there was a Lord of the Flies vibe to it. The psychology of the young male mind is fairly fascinating and seeing certain aspects of that included in an action movie was very interesting to watch.
The ending was a nice twist, if you didn’t know it’s a trilogy of books. It sets up very nicely for the next book (even if reader-son doesn’t feel it matched the book). When you find out that Thomas and Teresa were actually part of the team of “bad guys” you start to wonder if everyone will turn on them – and I was honestly surprised they didn’t. In fact, it seemed to strengthen the position that they should be followed since they obviously knew more. I think that’s a good lesson for adults to figure out – those with knowledge and insight should be made into leaders, not ostracized for being “different”.
Oh…and I have to say something about the Grievers…HOLY CRAP! Those things are scary and I’m not squeamish about movie monsters. Big mechanical-biological mixes of spider, scorpion, and scary-ass MONSTER. Surprisingly, I haven’t had a nightmare about these but dang! If you have arachnophobia these just might be a serious trigger for you. Fair warning…
Totally for Teens!
There is definitely a reason this movie is PG-13! There is a LOT of violence and some language. It’s pretty intense and even I was wringing my hands and holding my breath at times. I gasped out loud a few times and cried near the end. Definitely NOT for younger kids, even if they have read the books. Reading violence is very different from seeing it so if they aren’t used to seeing it, this is not the movie for them.
I give this 8 out of 4 hippos. Seriously. I loved it THAT MUCH!
I was beyond impressed with how they made this movie and what kids can learn from it. Oh…and I’ve already looked up the date for The Scorch Trials (second book)…it’s slated for 18 September 2015…just one year to wait. 🙂 In the meantime…I think we’re going to go see this again.
XO – T.