When I was in high school, I was convinced I wanted to be a writer. Not a journalist like I’m studying to be, but a novelist, like J.R.R. Tolkien or J.K. Rowling who make big worlds and big adventures come to life.
Wanting to indulge my fancy without encouraging it too much, my parents paid for me to go to writer’s conferences. At a conference at WSU, I met a tall, lanky guy named James Dashner. He had an interesting sense of humor, especially for a grown-up. Everyone at the conference was freaking out about his book “The Maze Runner.” I never looked into it, but I always heard it was a good book.
So a few weeks ago when I saw a commercial for a movie by the same name, I knew I had to go see it.
I still have never read the books, but after seeing the movie, I may just have to. Dashner’s main character, Thomas, is a typical YA hero. He starts out as a bit of an underdog, but begins to impress his peers and turns into the hero that everyone was hoping for. A little cliché, but it worked.
If nothing else, “The Maze Runner” was worth going to just to see Dylan O’Brien play Thomas. He plays the role without being too stodgy or too bright and exhibits a theatrical prowess that much of young Hollywood lacks. While O’Brien isn’t a super star yet, I can imagine that when teenager-dom gets an eye full of him, he will be.
Overall, I felt like the entire cast understood their characters. All the lesser, but still important characters like Alby, the benevolent leader of the Gladers played by Aml Ameen, Minho, the standoffish keeper of the Runners played by Ki-Hong Lee and Newt, the sweetly sarcastic second-in-command played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, were perfectly cast and gave a stunning performance.
Only once or twice did I ever see a cast member overacting their part. And when that happened, it was never someone that the camera was focused on. Even with those distractions, the cast, as a whole and individually, did a spectacular job.
Having no previous knowledge of the plot, I was surprised by how scary “The Maze Runner” was. At one point, Thomas, Minho and Alby get caught in the maze at night, with Alby severely injured. From the very beginning, the audience is warned that no one ever survives a night in the maze thanks to a nasty monster called a griever.
When Thomas and Mihno were confronted by a griever, it jumped out of nowhere, nearly landing on the boys with it’s half-organic, half-mechanical body. The big nasty thing almost ate the boys, but they narrowly managed to escape, thanks to some quick thinking and quick feet. I’m pretty sure I left at least one set of nail marks in the armrest of my chair.
The cast, crew and staff of “The Maze Runner” did a very good job of giving me absolutely nothing I can complain about. The acting was stupendous, I haven’t read the book so I can’t complain about it not being like the book and the cast was rather attractive. I had anticipated watching another sloppy retelling of “Lord of the Flies” but was pleasantly surprised by a new and inventive plot line. Well done, cast and crew, well done.