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    September 10, 2014


    Another day in Hollywood means another YA-novel is being adapted into the silver screen. The latest YA franchise to balk into that business trend is James Dashner’s best-selling “The Maze Runner”, for which 20th Century Fox is already starting the production rolling for its sequel. With heaps of other similarly-themed YA adaptations saturating the market, how does “The Maze Runner” set itself so differently than the rest of them? The answer is no, it does not. With concepts that go all the way from “The Hunger Games”, “Lord of the Flies”, “Lost”, “Cabin in the Woods” and “Ender’s Game”, the movie clings firmly on the generic genre expectation but still decisively delivers a fast-paced action and appealing characters to compensate for some of the movie’s shortcomings.

    Set in a dystopian world, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up to find himself amnesiac of his own past in a grassy and breezy vine of The Glade, a place inhabited by teenage boys. As beautiful and graceful as it sounds, The Glade turns out to be a buffer zone at the centre of a giant maze, occupied by vicious the mechanical “Shelob” spider-like creatures. The inhabitants of Glade have only one mission to live-by and that is to work out an escape route through the dangerous maze. But everything begins to change with the arrival of Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). The maze is “behaving” highly unusual and the suspicion of sabotage begins to erupt and tear down the coexistent partnership among the inhabitants.

    “The Maze Runner” is directed by first-timer Wes Ball, based on Noah Oppenheim’s treatment of the novel. As a potential franchise starter and as a directorial debut for Ball, the movie is surprisingly good to watch. The premise itself is intriguing and mysterious. As you may suspect, the whole reason of the premise existent can only be justified by the coexistence of another set of variables working from the external rings. But that is not apparently the main focus of the movie. Working outright as a potential franchise starter, the plot carries a lot of questions and doubts from the beginning and it runs through till the end. It drags for an hour, occasionally blasted with terms, little physiognomies of the tribe and something about the giant labyrinth itself – but then it is a free exposition for those who have never read the novel before and I suspected it is tailored in such way.

    After an hour or so, the movie spins into life by offering plenty of action scenes – of which look refreshingly economic yet satisfyingly authentic at the whole scenario of the movie. The scenes make use of the claustrophobic maze route set-up and mixed with an organic horror supplied by the arachnoid creatures, that very much want to kill you all the time and you can only dodge them. The result is a well-executed and fast-paced action flick that can be very terrifying (one of the most terrifying that I have seen in any version of YA-adaptations). You will be genuinely surprised too, when the arrival of a lone girl does not spark an itchy love-triangle side story – and that is absolutely the best decision ever made. Without the romantic substance, the movie works and focuses solely on the one thing it exists in the first place, which is the survival.

    Despite having a good story-driven premise and genre thrill delivery, the movie apparent lacks of the dramatic elements is truly a waste. That means you will not get much in-depth on the characters’ back stories and you will certainly not getting any more of those teenage clashes other than the one already established. In an ideal logic, it seems implausible on how a bunch of strangers to work out with a common goal with much eases like these, but I guess it is not really the case in this one. While the third act offers a relatively well paid-off escape plan, the tie-up of all the things the plot have been carrying looks hasty and it constantly screams “sequel” all over. If you are expecting answers to all the mysteries, questions and doubts that surround the plot from the beginning, sorry to say, you will not get many.

    In the end, “The Maze Runner” is an atypical young adult adaptation that works in providing the audience a credible and terrifying labyrinth adventure experience. Even with too many dudes in a scene, this is nothing like "The Expendables 3".

    Story: 3.5
    Casts: 4.0
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 4.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 15.0/20.0

    "The Maze Runner" stars Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Aml Ameen, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Lee ki Hong. It is presented by 20th Century Fox; directed by Wes Ball from the screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin; and is based on a same-titled novel by James Dashner. The movie is rated P13 and was released in Malaysia since September 11, 2014. The movie runs about 113 minutes.
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