Read Book Before Seeing The Maze Runner

Full cast scene from "The Maze Runner." (Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox/MCT)

Full cast scene from “The Maze Runner.” (Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox/MCT)

Gabriel Joseph ’17

We have already seen The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent fans all flock to the theaters to see their favorite books become movie adaptations. But in the midst of all these big name books and movies, a new contender for best movie adaptation has come into the picture. The Maze Runner, adapted from the original trilogy by James Dashner, has come to the big screen under new director Wes Ball. This is Ball’s directorial debut and he has only previously worked on visual effects.

The viewer is abruptly thrown into the story of a boy named Thomas, played by Teen Wolf‘s Dylan O’Brian, who has no memory of who he is and where he has come from. Waking up in an elevator he is frightened and alone, but as soon as he wakes the doors open and he finds himself in a new world filled with teenage boys struggling to survive. Thomas has entered the Glade, a seeming utopia of peace, with the boys living together in uneasy order. But as he talks to the boy’s kind but firm leader Alby, his right hand man Newt, and his unpleasant encounter with the group bully Gally, Thomas learns that these boys were put in a giant maze, with seemingly no way to escape and no recollection of their previous selves. All they know is that they were put in the Glade which is surrounded by a massive, dangerous, ever changing maze full of deadly monsters called Grievers

As the book title tells us, Thomas is eventually recruited as a runner of the maze, led by a boy named Minho. Together they explore the maze in a desperate attempt to escape. But enter Theresa, played by the English actor Kaya Scodelario, the first girl ever to enter the maze. She comes up through that mysterious elevator, with a note clutched in her hand, saying “she is the last one … ever” and the name Thomas speaking from her lips. As soon as Theresa enters the Glade, the normal order of things is thrown out of alignment and it is up to Thomas and Theresa and their Glade dwelling friends to find the way out and the mystery behind the great maze.

Now the book was a great story, with its Lord of the Flies undertones and themes of order, social contract, and justice thrown together with a hint of sci-fi. But as always, most movie adaptations do not fill the hungry appetites of the readers in that the movies don’t end up being exactly like the book. Take the Harry Potter series or The Hunger Games for example, as they throw is a few curve balls plot wise, dissatisfying some fans. But I think readers will be satisfied on how director Wes Ball and his writers Noah Oppenheim and others produced the book into a movie. Ball’s background on visual effects really comes to fruition in this movie as the whole atmosphere is vibrant and interesting, without being a huge overtone in the movie. The movie’s writers also give it justice as they stay true to most of the story and only omit what is not really necessary, which was to me, a reader and fan of the series, well done. Overall I think that fans of the series will be satisfied in what Wes Ball has come to offer and appreciate the various actors’ jobs in the film.

But what about the people who have not read the books, and are looking at the movie just as new blockbuster? Well I have to say that some may not be very satisfied. Though the writers may have left the readers satisfied, the movie does not portray character connections and character development as well as in the book. These flaws are probably overlooked by most readers, as they already know how the characters are connected and how they develop. The general exposition of the story is somewhat “clunky” and doesn’t really explain the situation smoothly.

Without giving much away, I would like to say that the end of the story would leave most moviegoers dissatisfied and unhappy. I can definitely say that this movie will have a sequel based on the ending of the first installment. All in all I think that fans of The Maze Runner book series will be satisfied but new people to the series will leave unhappy. My message for the movie, read the book first if you haven’t already.