The Maze Runner (2014)

4:10 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

This is one of those full circle moments where related things happen immediately right after the other.  I watched this movie for the second time - yes, twice - on Sunday the 21st with my brother and mother who were also with me during the James Dashner author signing event at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena on September 12th.  Aaaand both of them have finished the trilogy whereas I've only read the first one.  It was like with Angels and Demons; all 3 of us read the source material and were looking forward to a discussion about the movie.

During his Q&A, James Dashner joked that he thought the movie was better than the book.  I figured he was saying that in jest to sell the movie and understandably, he was excited.  I shared his excitement because I enjoyed The Maze Runner a lot.  It started off slow for me but in a genre flooded by "strong young female lead characters," we needed to hear from the boys.  Thomas, Minho, Newt, and the rest of the Gladers filled up that void.

I always thought that The Hunger Games movies were better than the books.  Shoot me, it's true.  But did I agree with Mr. Dashner?  Is the movie better than the book in this case?  Yes and no.  There were parts of the book that I felt were important that were left out.  On the other hand, I also understood why they had to take the liberties that they took with the movie.

The Maze Runner to begin with is a rather complex book.  It's not one of those "spoon-fed" YA novels where the author tells you instead of shows you.  It has a lot of words that only make sense in this particular 'verse.  It started off slow with a lot of explanations - what is what, who is who, where is where. Right off the bat, Thomas, our main character, seems different. He's not as passive as the other boys.

I like how the actors brought the characters to life.  I particularly enjoyed Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Minho (Ki Hong Lee). The screen lights up whenever either of them are on and man, they are so awesome to watch.  Kaya Scodelario who plays Teresa looks like a Bella Swan double.  She was just... there.  Much of the stuff they left out of the book had something to do with her.  Blake Cooper as Chuck was just delightful.  It's like book!Chuck jumped off the page on to the screen.  The other Gladers were like Teresa... they were just there.  There's this one kid who had lines but for the life of me, I could not remember his name.  Eh.  And as for Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), he was okay.  I never had a clear picture of Thomas in my head anyway.

What I liked the most was the editing and pacing.  For a movie with "runner" in the name, they did well on the pace of the film.  The book runs a bit slow and steady but that might not translate well on screen.  In that case, I agreed with one huge change that they did for the adaptation. The actual running sequences were great.  The maze came alive on screen very well.  Minho, oh oppa... XD  The actor portrayed that confident but not cocky demeanor so well.  I also liked their costumes.  It felt functional and every main character had a distinct look.

However, I pictured a different look for the Grievers.  In my head, it was a cross between a jelly blob and Final Fantasy VIII's monster, X-ATM092.  The ones in the movie, I thought, were too skinny and small.  They were fierce but rather smaller than what I expected.  But hey, what do I know?

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed it.  It's no Hunger Games but it is more enjoyable than Divergent.  Would I watch it again?  Absolutely!