Magazine article Variety

Coming-of-Age Parable Finds Its Way out of 'Maze'

Magazine article Variety

Coming-of-Age Parable Finds Its Way out of 'Maze'

Article excerpt

Coming-of-Age Parable Finds Its Way Out of 'Maze'

As world-creation YA pictures go, "The Maze Runner," based on James Dashner's popular 2009 fantasy novel, feels refreshingly low-tech and properly story-driven. Much of the action unfolds in a large field, and the spidery thingies that crawl out of the woodwork to afflict a band of boys trying to escape a mysterious confinement have an old-fashioned, biomechanical charm. Though the pacing drags a bit in the first hour and there's not much character development unless you count the cast's bicep-building hours at the gym, Wes Ball's feature debut builds solidly to an exciting battle finale and a big reveal that doubles as coming-of-age parable. Though the addition of a lone girl feels tacked on, if the film doesn't beef up the end of summer's watery box office, it won't be for lack of female bums in seats. Girls flock to action and horror these days, especially when they come stocked with the comely likes of "Teen Wolf's" Dylan O'Brien and his band of muscled bros.

"The Maze Runner" starts with a buff young fellow (O'Brien) being transported in a cage to a landscape that, at first blush, closely resembles an Outward Bound campsite. A helpful hazing restores his memory, and Thomas quickly, if not quiescently, acclimates to his surroundings, which for all their bucolic beauty are edged with sinister creeping vines and surrounded by walls too high to scale - with one tantalizing opening. Egged on by the bully (Will Poulter) who's regulation for this kind of film, most of Thomas' fellow Gladers come on like obedient frat boys crossed with "Lord of the Flies" castaways trying to improvise social order in the absence of adult authority. Except that nothing could be more antithetical to can-do American individualism than the bleak British fatalism of William Golding's novel. …

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