“The Maze Runner” Didn’t Make it into the Home Stretch

The best scene in The Maze Runner is when the one girl (a newbie) starts chucking rocks at all the boys from the sticks-and-stuff aerie in the glade.

Yes. The acting was fine. (Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario). The characterization was fine. The maze and blades and woods and screaming horror were fine. But . . . I’m not interested in seeing the sequel. The only family member who might want to is my thirteen-year-old granddaughter.

The Maze Runner is yet another dystopian take on “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, and there have been plenty of those lately. The Hunger Games for one, which also harked back to the short story, “The Most Dangerous Game”, by Richard Connell. At least somebody is reading classic literature.

I’ve tried these youth books, since my granddaughter reads them. My daughter has read them, too. Most of them cannot hold my interest. Only one youth series made that grade, and it was “The Ranger’s Apprentice” by Australian John Flanagan. I bought the whole set and have read it twice. Now I’m working on his latest books, “The Brotherband Chronicles”, about Viking boys. Flanagan knows how to spin a tale and I can heartily recommend them for both youth and adult.

I’ve heard some touting of the special effects for The Maze Runner, since the director, Wes Ball, has just stuck his toe in the directorial waters and his background lies in special effects.

However . . . nobody in my circle could quite get into the mechanical maze monsters. They were leggy killing machines cobbled together with pieces of both organic and metal parts called “Grievers”. Rhymes with “Reavers”, which are ravenous killers in other science-fiction tales. Kinda left you feeling like my New Hampshire friend says of something that’s not exactly top tier — meh.

The battle scenes between kids and said creepies were so dark you had no idea what was going on or who was getting squished. They must have taken a page from “Pacific Rim”. A good movie, but when it came to the rumble in the dark you couldn’t see squat.

Having no idea what’s going on made it all the way across the finish line. The end made absolutely no sense. I know this is a serial movie based on a series of books, but let’s face it. Ya gotta let the audience in on SOMETHING.

All I know (maybe) was that there were two contending factions on an earth that wasn’t what it used to be, to put it mildly. And (maybe) the kids are caught in the middle of these factions, trapped in some kind of scientific experiment, like with mazes and mice. Why? Well, ain’t that the million dollar question. There was a “disease” kids could die of after getting “stung”, but every reference left that piece of the plot even more muddled.

Most serial movies I’ve seen end with a viable conclusion while still leaving enough hanging to whet the appetite. This didn’t happen with “The Maze Runner”. It left me with my mouth open and a big “Huh?” look on my face. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one.

But don’t take my word for it. This movie was well-received overall by audiences and critics. Maybe you’ll like it. But don’t look to see if I’m seated next to you when the sequel comes out. I won’t be there.

 

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