Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (2014)

     Although I had heard of this movie (as well as the book series that it’s based on), I really had no desire to see it. That oftentimes seems to be the case with me and movies though. As of right now, post apocalyptic, dystopian storylines are the popular deal right now in the media (“The Hunger Games”, “The Maze Runner”, "Divergent", and “The Giver”) all with the same theme of children defying law and order (sometimes unknowingly) in the desire to better the world they live in. The Maze Runner may differ slightly from that popular plot, but there is the common thread of an ordinary person, called to do extraordinary things whether they want to or not.

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Dylan O' Brian as Thomas

     When Thomas wakes up in a cage, soaking wet and staring up at a group of taunting boys looking down in on him, you think he would have reason to be afraid. Worse, Thomas has no idea who he is; he doesn't even know his own name. As soon as he gets out of the cage (known as ‘the box’), he makes a dash across a spacious meadow and proceeds to faceplants in front of a mammoth stone wall the stretches around the whole perimeter of farming community these boys call home. Thomas is the new ‘greenie’ in the Glade.
     Within a matter of hours, Alby, the kindly community leader, explains to Thomas about life in the Glade, how a new boy arrives in a box every month, the same box that provides them with food, livestock, and necessities to live on, the ground rules which everyone must abide by, and the common goal of living together to survive, which has worked for the three years they have been there. What Thomas’ mind is really on, though, is the stone wall and what is behind it.

     That wall houses an intricate maze that only a handful of boys, known as runners, go into every morning and study in some hope of solving it and finding a way out. Warned by everyone to not go near it, Thomas cannot stay away and finds himself (almost obsessively) compelled to become a runner and find the secrets of the Maze, even if it means coming face to face with the deadly grievers, a giant spider-like machine that gives a deadly sting to anyone who comes in contact with it. Thomas’ insatiable desire to leave the Glade and daringly take on the Maze leads him and his small group of friends into the outside world, but it is not at all what they imagined nor is what follows afterwards.

    I really, really, liked Thomas! Being a shy (or introverted is probably what we say now) and reserved character is all over popular fiction right now and to be honest, I’m kind of over it, but I enjoyed Thomas. Mainly because of his desire for answers which could lead to his freedom, but also his kindness towards others which molds him into a growing leader.

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Kaya Scodelario as Teresa 
     The most shocking discovery to ever arrive in the box, a girl. Like Thomas, Teresa doesn’t have any memory of her past, but she does know her name and, oddly, she seems to know him. Teresa arrives with a note that says
She’s the last one.
     Thomas begins to remember Teresa from constant vivid dreams of working in a laboratory and being told over and over again, “Wicked is Good.” As soon as Teresa arrives, all hell breaks loose in the Glade when the grievers attack in the night and the residents must fight for their lives and their home. Thomas and Teresa both believe that they are the cause of this destruction and determine to take on the Maze in the hopes o regaining their past and attaining a new future.

    Teresa came late in the story, so her character wasn't really explored. She is independent, kind and a born fighter. Unlike most female characters in YA literature, Teresa doesn't mind letting the boys take lead as long as she’s in on what’s going on. Hopefully, the sequel will go deeper into who she is.

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Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt
     Alby’s second-in-command, Newt is a practical and sensible voice of reason that is thrust into the role of leadership when Alby is taken by the grievers. Although he is young, Newt is one of the first boys to arrive in the Glade and understands the Glader’s world better than anyone. He’s the person who shows Thomas around and introduces him to the different factions of the community, the builders, the slicers, the med-jacks and the runners.

     When Thomas shows interest in becoming a runner, Newt cuts him off and warns him of the impending dangers of working through the Maze. Overtime though, Thomas proves his skill as a sole survivor in the Maze and Newt grants him a role as a runner. Dissension over Thomas begins to build and Newt is forced to either stay in the Glade and continue leadership in the happy community or forfeit his role as leader and follow Thomas into the Maze.

     Newt was a great character, for the primary reason of being a really nice guy. Sometimes it’s nice to have a solid person in the story that you know you can rely on and isn’t going to fail in the process. He was hardly inexperienced in his role as a leader, but his willingness to set aside his role and follow Thomas is really what made him epitome of a loyal friend and someone who yearns for the truth of who he is.

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Will Poulter as Gally
     A hard working, but opinionated builder who finds himself contented as a Glader, but rather disconnected with the rabble that Thomas’ arrival has brought to his home. From the second of Thomas’ coming to the Glade, Gally has mistrusted him and believes him to be the cause of the impending accidents that befall the community only a few days later.

     Fed up with Thomas’ disregard for the rules concerning the Maze, Gally plots a rebellion to overthrow Newt and takeover that Glade for himself. Except, he doesn't realize that others are wanting to leave this closed off world and escape into an unknown one, even if it means challenging the Maze.

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Ki Hong Lee as Minho
     The Keeper of the Runners who is the first person to believe in Thomas’ theories of the Maze. No one knows the Maze better than Minho and no one desires to solve it more. Patient and persistent, Minho has built an exact replica of the Maze which has allowed to discover the secrets and possible ways out. He immediately takes a liking to Thomas and his daringness to take on the Maze, even when he breaks the rules, which ultimately ends up saving his life. Like Newt, Minho is not ruled by ego or superiority, if Thomas is the key to getting out, then by all means, let him lead them out.

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Wicked Is Good
The Maze Runner (2014)
     Like the Maze, this story is twisting and confusing, and always leaves you with more questions than answers. As a matter of fact, when the movie ends, none of the burdening questions are answered; they are only piled up with more questions. The acting from all the young actors was exceptional, especially from Dylan O’ Bryan and Will Poulter, they were amazing to watch together. Music and cinematography were both beautiful and astounding; the film was actually shot in the beautiful Baton Rouge bayous which really gave the film a genuinely natural feel.

      Even though I haven’t read the books, I am anticipating the sequel as well as keeping a constant lookout for the books at my library. Like most dystopian literature, the story does have the underlying sub-tones of doom and despair (and possibly everyone is going to die), but the alluring mystery of the Maze and the secrets of the children’s pasts all give the genre a new fresh energy.

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