The Maze Runner (3 stars)

The Maze Runner

James Dashner's YA novel is the basis for a dystopian adventure starring Dylan O'Brien

Ever since Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games was transformed into a box-office smash starring Jennifer Lawrence, there’s been a trend for adapting teen dystopian fiction in Hollywood. Shailene Woodley appeared in the adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Divergent earlier on this year and now it’s the boys’ turn, with confident newcomer Dylan O’Brien taking the lead role of Thomas in an intriguing and darkly realised race against time.

Will Poulter and Thomas Brodie-Sangster are just a couple of the talented actors who battle with him against a monstrous, intricate maze which they believe holds the key to their freedom. Every month a new teenager appears, unable to recall where they came from and why they have been sent to this mysterious place, known only as the Glade. The film focusses on the trials and tribulations newbie Thomas faces in the fiendish maze which, to add insult, is inhabited by nasty, metal spider-like creatures. When the first female (Kaya Scodelario) appears she seems to recognise Thomas and things move up a notch.

The interplay between the great young cast and the fact that the film rarely speaks down to its audience (save an information dump towards the end) are particular pleasures. And, unlike the recent spate of superhero movies aimed at a similarly aged audience, The Maze Runner has the courage of its convictions, allowing main characters to be killed off when needed.

Just like the protagonist of this piece, debut director Wes Ball has been flung in at the deep end with the first instalment of James Dashner's trilogy, and yet he rises to the challenge in largely the same manner. Ball moulds the novel’s coming-of-age themes and sci-fi setting into interesting, if inconsistent entertainment. The Maze Runner moves at a reasonably enjoyable pace, taking us from CGI-heavy set-piece to set-piece and only occasionally stumbling.

General release from Fri 10 Oct.

The Maze Runner | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

The Maze Runner

  • 3 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 1h 53min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Wes Ball
  • Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson
  • UK release: 10 October 2014

Thomas (O'Brien) is just one of a group of teenagers who find themselves battling against a giant, intricate maze. The latest teen-dystopian-blockbuster adaptation features a great young cast and isn't afraid to kill off main characters where necessary. Interesting if inconsistent entertainment.