I saw The Maze Runner in theaters without knowing much, if anything, about the movie or the book that it was based on. This can be a common occurrence if you haven’t caught onto the YA trilogy craze as this isn’t the first time I’ve stumbled upon a series without knowing anything about it (Twilight, The Hunger Games, Vampire Academy, and Divergent… basically all of them).
The Maze Runner starts with a young man, played by Dylan O’Brien, who doesn’t know his name in the beginning, as he is raised up into a large courtyard that is almost entirely enclosed. As one of several dozen young men who are in a similar situation Thomas (O’Brien) starts to figure out that this simple, idyllic encampment is anything but. Beyond the strange metal doors is a maze (really a labyrinth since it changes its layout constantly but I suppose The Labyrinth Runner isn’t as succinct) with creatures that are callously efficient at killing people who aren’t named Thomas.
This group is led by Alby (Aml Ameen) and includes notable members such as Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) Alby’s second in command, Gally (Will Poulter) an enforcer, Chuck (Blake Cooper) their fat friend, and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) a runner. Each of so-called Gladers have a specialized role within this rudimentary society as they try to survive it and find a way out of this nightmarish scenario.
It’s basically The Hunger Games without a legitimate competition and supposedly Divergent with the end of world as a plot point. It tries, and whether or not it succeeds is entirely up for debate, to take the YA dystopic trilogy and put a new spin on it. Unfortunately there are only so many ways you can do the same concept over and over again until they are all interchangeable. Is this a good thing? Only the next fad will give us any sort of insight.
Eventually the men are joined by a single woman, Theresa (Kaya Scodelario), who remembers more than anyone else but still not much else. Things start to pick up before she shows up as Thomas proves his importance to the plot by surviving, and helping Minho as well, a Griever. He can run really well, but because we need a convenient way to inflict conflict there will always be someone who incites it by being disagreeable for no readily understandable reason.
The same tropes populate this genre, so you’d be hard pressed to find anything that is overly unique about one series. But it’s okay because it actually is an interesting film series.
Once the Gladers (their name not mine) finally decide to get proactive, things start to move rather quickly and characters (nameless or otherwise) are killed left and right to continue the illusion that our main characters are in any apparent danger in the first of a planned trilogy. Although with their luck they’ll decide to extend the third book into two movies just to spite us.