The Maze Runner Runs Dry

I have always found that the appeal of the post-apocalyptic, sci-fi thriller originates in the unknown. Being thrown into a
strange world is fascinating—what we hold to be the essence of truth is often no longer accurate. 

We aren’t threatened by oozy mechanical scorpions or trapped by intricate, ever-shifting mazes in real life. Fantasies are just that: fantasies. They immerse us in creativity and provide us with a temporary escape from reality—and that’s why we find The Maze Runner, released in September, so fascinating. 

But
once this unknown is established, does the film hold any substance? In my opinion, it really doesn’t. With absolutely no character development or deeper meaning, The Maze Runner‘s intrigue is over as soon as the mystery is revealed. Fortunately, that’s where the movie comes
to an end. Don’t worry, though, there will be a second and third film in the series
to pique our interest again.

The Maze Runner jumps right into the action, dropping us
into the twisted and terrified, testosterone-filled world of the Glade, a circular Hunger Games-esque arena enclosed by a towering, moving maze. Arriving in a mechanical box, visibly shaken and lacking his memory, Thomas (Dylan O’ Brien) opens his eyes to find roughly 20 boys
standing over him. 

It is clear from the get-go that Thomas is here to shake
things up, much to the dismay of some of the boys. His appearance creates an instant divide
between himself and the boys and adds an internal conflict to the movie. In their two
years in the Glade, the boys have established a somewhat civilized way of
living, designating jobs such as food gatherer and runner. As would be imagined in a society consisting of solely teenage boys, though, they seem to spend most of their time fighting, yelling and playing with fire.

Thomas quickly establishes himself as a maze runner, the
most honored role in the Glade, because of his courage and curiosity. Maze
runners travel deep into the maze each day to map it in search for an exit.
These action-filled scenes largely involve Thomas and his fellow runners sliding
between closing crevices and yelling at each other to run faster. The film held my interest with these exciting scenes until the mystical world began to unveil
its secrets.

As Thomas’s boldness begins to take its toll on the community, mechanical
“Grievers” emerge from the walls to drip lethal slime on the boys. Sounds dramatic, but once the Grievers began chasing and scrambling up walls, my curiosity began to fade. Although menacing, the Grievers soon became monotonous, and the film’s fast-paced
action screeched to a halt. That is until, of course, the next curve ball was thrown. 

Emerging from the mechanical box, a girl named Teresa arrives to wreak havoc on the boys—though how 20 boys even know what a girl is, after having their memories erased and living two years with just each other, is left unclear. Teresa joins Thomas’s side, and the two push on in their fight for
freedom and knowledge.

Teresa’s character appears to set the film up for a sequel, since The Maze Runner leaves us with much to be continued. She
lacks Thomas’s three-dimensionality and really any personality at all, besides
her bravery. Yet I think it is fair to assume that she will spark up a romance
with one of the characters in a following film. She seems randomly placed into
the movie, despite her participation in the plot and role in lending small, yet crucial clues about the boys’ pre-Glade lives. Unfortunately, I did not find myself fascinated by either her character or the questions she raised.

While captivated by The Maze Runner‘s unknown intrigue, I left the theater feeling little but apathy. I didn’t feel an emotional
attachment to any of the characters, and the ending fell flat, blatantly unfinished. The film had maintained its action-packed, quick-paced
feeling throughout, but the action had lost most of my curiosity.

Still, The Maze Runner is worth a watch while we wait for the
next installment of the Hunger Games to come out. What it lacks in character development, the
film makes up in its somewhat creative intrigue. And though you won’t leave the
theater feeling completely satisfied, your interest may be sparked
enough to watch the sequel.

I will probably end up watching The Maze Runner 2 or its third installment, The
Scorch Trials, 
on a
Friday night sometime next year. I will jump at the right moments and gasp when
the final plot point is revealed, but I will never watch it again. So if you
find the time, turn on The Maze Runner and give it half of your attention. But if your
thought and time can be fully invested somewhere else, by all means, choose a different movie.

But don’t believe me, just watch!

Sawyer Henshaw SC ’17 is a media studies major. Believe it or not, the film columnist wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies until she was 17 years old. 

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