The Maze Runner Screening Review (SPOILER FREE)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Note before reading: I wrote this review right after seeing The Maze Runner Screening, but silly me, I forgot to post it! Enjoy!

Ten hours. It’s not a short time, especially when you are waiting for something. Especially since you also decided to get in the Comic Con line at 2am on little sleep, sped through the exhibit hall at its opening, and hightailed it over to the Gaslamp Theater to be one of the first fifteen or so in line to see The Maze Runner screening. I’ve even got the sunburned face, the achey knees from sitting too long, and the friendship bonds that can only be formed by sitting side-by-side in line to prove that ten hours is in fact a really, really long time.

But some things are just worth it.

Written by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is the story of Thomas, a boy who wakes up in the center of a giant maze with no recollection of his past other than his name. The center of the maze is the safe area called the Glade and home to a group of boys who, like Thomas, woke up there without an inkling about why they are there. When a girl, Teresa, shows up with a note saying that she is the last person to be sent to the Glade, things start to take a turn for the Gladers and the only solution seems to be to solve the maze.

The Maze Runner movie is nothing short of the enthusiastic SPECTAULAR that James Dashner tweeted that Thursday morning. The movie captured a Glade that I’ve only pictured in my head and made it real, and I would even say better than I had imagined. The graphics in the film were so convincing that it was easy to forget the Glade and the Maze weren’t real. However, the real masterpiece of the CGI in this film was the Grievers, terrifying and worth every grey hair I left the theater with.

It’s rare to see casting for a movie adaptation that is so close to the book. Dylan O’Brien gives life to the main character, Thomas, by exuding that quiet determination and questioning attitude that were so vivid in the book. His performance during the most intense scenes was incredibly convincing – truly phenomenal acting that really captures the viewer.

The character that I felt truly came to life on the screen was Gally, played by Will Poulter. When I first read The Maze Runner, I thought of Gally as a bully. However, after reading all the books and going through a few rereads, I had found Gally to be one of the most dynamic characters in the series, and I was truly amazed that  Pouter captured that Gally in the film. He shows a character who is a leader that is set in Glader-created societal rules and who is afraid of the changes Thomas brings into their community, which threaten the only life he can remember. Pouter really did this complicated character justice on the screen.

There are limits to film just as there are to books, and making the transition between the two can leave some things lost along the way. I was lucky enough to have a quick talk with Dashner at a signing the next day about some of the decisions in translating his book to the screen. Though I cannot reveal most of that discussion without revealing some movie spoilers, I will say that Dashner did clear up a few questions that I had about moving the story outside of Thomas’ first person account. I’m sure many avid fans will understand this choice toward a screen-friendly and less internal film when they finally see it. So rest assured, the book’s transition to film was treated well in the hands of James Dashner and Wes Ball.

The only qualm that The Maze Runner has given me can be summed up in two little by weighty words:

Two. Months.

Two months biting my tongue when I get questions about the Grievers, Teresa, and the Glade. Two months of seeing trailers and posters. Two months not being able to gush about that one scene where Thomas and Minho are in the Maze and—wait, I can’t talk about that. Most importantly, two months of no way to watch the movie in a theatre and see it all over again. It’s really going to be a rough two months much longer than those original 10 hours of waiting.

For now, the only people who know the experience I went through are down to a mere two hundred who sat in a San Diego movie theatre that night, and what we experienced was something heart-stopping, imaginative, and exceptional.

I really cannot wait for you all to experience The Maze Runner movie on September 19th too, you shuck-faces.