The Maze Runner movie review

I’m no young adult genre expert, but I’d say The Maze Runner rides an interesting line between “thoroughly entertaining” and “not making any sense at all.”  It’s an interesting case – the movie works just as well as it fails.  Join me, won’t you, while I try to make sense and celebrate this flick? 

The biggest problem The Maze Runner has is that it raises questions it has no intention of answering.  On the other hand, it has solid performances, visuals, directing and so on.  The movie exists in a fully realized universe, but it comes up short on the details.  For example:

“This is our society. You (the audience) barely know and certainly aren’t attached to – oh no! It’s coming apart at the seams because Thomas is here now and everything is changing! …  Huh, you don’t seem to care… probably because of the aforementioned lack of understanding of our world.  Someone will be along with some exposition in a moment that you won’t care about because again, lack of establishment.”

That’s kinda the whole thing in a nutshell.  Also, people say things like, “We call them reapers… we’re really proud of that. Took us a week to come up with that name.”  You know, like Grim Reaper!  It’s CLEVER!  It’s like the Dementors in Harry Potter – Demon +Torment!

I guess it’s just a YA thing… but I don’t have to like it.

Meet the cast!  There’s the builders, the slicers (who do what?), the runners…  I guess everyone works on farming?  Meanwhile, we’re all Gladers, we all have keepers… anyway, division of labor! Based on… I dunno. There’s no weird rock blood ceremony like Divergent.  Oh, and get a load of this guy:

“I’m Chuck and I’m chubby and my name is only a few letters away from Chunk AND I even kinda look like the kid from The Goonies.”


I’m just sayin’…

There’s a need for a present antagonist (as the conflict with whoever put them in the Glade is a little too broad in a “Man vs Society” sort of way and the Reapers have no personality whatsoever), but Gally’s logic and motivation never makes any sense and he just never stops.  What I’m saying is, Gally sucks and he has too many lines/scenes in the movie.

Oh, and meet Teresa:

“Hi, I’m the first female. I have two plot devices in my pocket. They could have just sent them up, but they sent me too because… reasons I guess are in the book but didn’t get into the movie because budget ($34 million doesn’t seem like a lot for an action movie.) and time or something…”

This is fairly standard.  For example, Thomas Brodie-Sangster (best name for an actor ever, by the way) is in this movie.  His character…  uhm, is in the movie.  He’s kinda, you know, he’s supportive… I guess.  And he helps push the plot along, so… yeah.

A few hundred words and rantings ago, I said this movie asks questions it doesn’t bother to answer.  Some of them include:

What’s the experiment? Something about evolution of brain chemistry to survive the sun virus? And the reapers and the maze facilitate this process how? Why are their memories wiped? What does having no memory of your past life have to do with surviving in the Glade or solving the maze?  Or not getting killed by the grievers?  The experimenters are still f@cking with them after they get into the compound because more experiments will help them achieve their goal, which is… wait, what’s their goal?  I dunno.

I thought this was a series for kids. How ’bout giving us a bad guy who’s motivation is clear?  Jeez.

They mysteries don’t have satisfying answers and the overall plot doesn’t have much in the way of surprises – as in, “Gee, you think they’re going to make Thomas a runner?” Nevertheless, the movie is well paced and it moves along quickly enough with a running time under two hours… although there’s tons of stuff that is underdeveloped, so it’s a toss-up between boredom and a well fleshed out story.  The Maze Runner isn’t terrible, but I feel that if they’d spent a little more time working out the bugs, they could have delivered something worthy of recognition rather than a movie that no one is going to remember by the time the sequel comes out.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on February 10, 2015, in movie review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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