One of the more questionable “pleasures” of again having access to more TV channels is that I slowly get to catch up on movies on my backlog. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but more often than not I come to the realization that I really didn’t miss out on much. I don’t need to write a single word about the Transformers movies – we all know how awful they actually are – but it so happens that now bit by bit other movies are trickling down to the TV recycling markets that were hot a few years ago, so I was actually looking forward to Maze Runner.
As a modo user I really liked the Ruin short movie back then and was hoping for a similar experience, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. The premise is of course moronic and even ludicrous – I knew that when I looked up the synopsis and well, what can you expect, it’s one of those Young Adult novels turned movie that studios were buying by the bucket ten years ago, hoping to rake in big cash with long-lasting multiple movie franchises – but I didn’t want to let it get in the way and enjoy the ride.
Naturally, the biggest issue is that you never actually care for what happens. It’s like they could have placed a title slate with “Day 500 in the Glade. Someone is out exploring the Maze while the rest are having a good time.” written on it and it would have been the same. There’s just zero interaction and, most importantly, the effects of long-term isolation and having to deal with the situation as an adolescent are left completely unexplored. It really would have been good if there was a bit more Lord of the Flies in here. This also extends to what happens when someone gets “stung” and regains his memories. We never get to see how people break down over the realization of their situation and how hopeless it is. If and when there are moments that would offer some insights, they are dealt with in a by-the-numbers way and every sentence sounds like it has been ripped out of another book or movie.
The other thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the production design. While the Maze itself is made to look like old concrete bunkers from the second world war (I guess it shows that there was a short movie with a similar look before), it has no logic beyond “big moving walls” and one could even argue that on a planet allegedly scorched by the sun there would not be even a hint of rust because the air is so arid. Then again of course there’s a scene where it rains. Talk about plot holes! The same could be said for the Grievers – they are a mix of organic and robotic technology, yet it is the technological part that infects people using a conventional syringe. Mmmh?! They do look rather ridiculous to boot and neither in a biological nor technological sense have any logic to them.
The absence of any sense of passing time is also something I took issue with. The young cuties always looked like they came fresh out of a beauty parlor with perfectly styled hair and perfectly clean. There’s nothing scruffy or grimy about them. Some of them are supposed to have been there almost three years. With natural growing hair, at least a few should have had long hair, don’t you think? The same could be said for clothes being worn down and so on. Even if you give credit to that they are cared for from the outside, things should have looked much more ragged and dirty.
Overall I think this is a typical case of a director hitting all the wrong beats. It’s not that I believe that the books would ever become literary classics, but I’m willing to believe that you could extract a better movie script from them, regardless. As it is, this is pretty dull and uninspired and I actually had to struggle for motivation to even watch the last 45 minutes or so. There was never a feeling of suspense or mystery regardless of whether you knew the story already or not. Everything was 100% predictable. The only thing that could have been worse would have been watching Battleship again, which concurrently ran on another channel… ;-)