By Lauren Fetter
The thought of being transported to the middle of nowhere without knowing a single soul is terrifying. Add the idea of not remembering any major life events or one’s own name while trapped in the center of an inescapable maze, and a person’s worst fears can be realized. In Wes Ball’s latest film, “The Maze Runner,” the fear of the unknown is brought to life.
Adapted from James Dashner’s NY Times Best Seller of the same name, “The Maze Runner” stars Dylan O’Brien of MTV’s “Teen Wolf” as Thomas, a teenager placed inside The Glade, an all-male society located at the center of an ever-changing maze filled with deadly monsters called Grievers. Thomas joins a group of boys who have established a hierarchy in the midst of trying to escape the confines of the maze for the past three years.
After voluntarily running into the maze in an act the other boys deem insane, Thomas becomes a Runner, a boy who runs the course of the maze from sunrise to sunset while trying to map it and find a way out, quickly throwing off the balance in which the boys have grown accustomed. In the days following Thomas’ arrival, the last and final Glader is brought to the maze — this time, a girl named Teresa.
Though the boys cast in “The Maze Runner” are not well-known in Hollywood, their talent and acting prowess makes their performances comparable to award-winning actors. The fact that they are not household names, however, only makes the film that much more believable for viewers as they witness a group of teenagers fighting to survive in the maze.
The casting of Aml Ameen (“The Butler”) as Alby, the leader of the Gladers, and his sidekick, Newt, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Love Actually”), creates a well-executed sense of tight-knit family bonds and brotherhood in The Glade.
Will Poulter (“We Are the Millers”), who plays Gally, the movie’s antagonist, goes up against O’Brien’s heroic leading male role throughout the film, in a climactic conflict similar to that found in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.” The idea of good versus evil butting heads in a time of rebellion is heightened by the chemistry Poulter and O’Brien share on screen.
Dylan O’Brien, accompanied by his up-and-coming co-stars, makes the audience feel as if they are also trying to escape the maze, overwhelmed with fear and anxiety provoked by the maze’s omnipotence. With every twist and turn, the audience has no idea what Thomas and the other Gladers could be up against in the maze as they try to make it out alive before sunset.
Though the film is not for the faint of heart, this dark twist on what would otherwise be a typical dystopian thriller makes the film different and more enjoyable than those before it.
Perhaps it’s necessary to find out what’s lurking inside the walls of the maze.