I woke up to snow on the ground for the first time this season yesterday. It’s a bit on the late side for snow this year, and it’s not expected to stay around. With this shaping up to be a record-breaking El Nino year, it’s likely that Ontario will have a mild winter this time around. Right now, I welcome it, after having faced two straight years of a polar vortex, but the kids are wondering when the snows will come. As long as we have a white Christmas, and not 2012’s “the Winter that Wasn’t”, I’ll be happy.
The grandparents took the kids on Friday, as is becoming the tradition. But as Erin was away on a writer’s retreat, it meant that I was home alone. I thought briefly about seeing James Bond’s Spectre, but I decided I wasn’t up for a night out in a movie theatre. Instead, I stayed home, had tea, and played The Maze Runner on Netflix. It was actually a pretty decent movie.
For those who don’t know, the basic plot of The Maze Runner starts with a young man who wakes up on a rising freight elevator, with no memory of who he is or where he came from. When he gets to the top, he’s emerges into a large glade surrounded by impossibly tall stone walls. He’s taken in by a group of similar young men, who also remember little more than their names (our hero eventually remembers that he’s called “Thomas”), and who haven’t gone full Lord of the Flies in their isolated situation. The only way out of the glade is a large stone gate that opens up onto a humongous stone maze with no apparent exit. The stone gates close at night, and the maze re-arranges itself. Those who end up stuck in the maze overnight become victims of the ravenous bio-techno monsters called the Grievers. Who is Thomas? Why is he here? And who built the maze and why? What sort of experiment is this?
I haven’t read the book, personally. Erin herself has said, “the book made me go, ‘I wish they would do something with this incredible setting’.” The plot of the book strikes me as one that would translate to the silver screen quite easily, so I expect that those who thought the book was somewhat thin would find more to like here. It’s well acted and well directed, and the lead actor draws the viewer into the mystery.
I have to admit that the characters are all somewhat one-dimensional, though. Kaya Scodelario is a good actress, but her character Theresa is memorable primarily by virtue of being the only female character to appear on screen through the first 90% of the movie. There is some chemistry between her and Thomas, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Fortunately, she does end up doing a good chunk of what needs to be done to bring the plot to its conclusion — not that this amounts to much.
I think the biggest flaw with The Maze Runner is that it doesn’t really end. Rather, it launches the rest of the series which, from what little I know, is something of a confused mess. The premise swamps the characters somewhat, so the arc of the individual movie doesn’t really feel satisfying. There are, however, moments of pathos, decent action, and good creepy mystery. It was a decent way to spend a quiet evening, and I might give the second movie a chance.