Like I said in my review for The Giver, there is a lot of competition right now in the teenage post-apocalyptic genre. Maze Runner is going up against a huge success (Hunger Games), a moderate success (Divergent), and a relative dud (The Giver). The Hunger Games is the clear champ in that category right now. Jennifer Lawrence has gotten serious cred as a real actor, and the movies were very entertaining (not to mention box office monsters). Divergent was “Pretty Good”. It had an interesting premise, but suffered a little from a couple corny moments. The Giver just didn’t quite work. Where would The Maze Runner fall in the teenage dystopia hierarchy?

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“Do you think we can beat Divergent?”

The Good

Let’s start with what worked for this movie. Most importantly the lead was good. With an unrealistic script like this it can be easy to be cheesy (Hayden Christensen), lame (Tobey Maguire) or both (Robert Pattinson). So props to Dylan O’Brien. He delivered a good and believable performance that didn’t have any noticeable cringe-worthy moments. I couldn’t figure out where I recognized him from. IMDB helped me figure out that he was a secondary character in The Internship.

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All boys and no adults. Are they going to go full-on Lord of the Flies?

It’s also important (and challenging) for these book movies to establish the premise in a thorough and intriguing way. They need to establish a baseline level of believablilty for the movie to get the audience on board. These types of movies will never be “realistic”, but they need to be well presented enough that the audience goes along for the ride. This movie did well in being “buy-in-able”. I was intrigued enough that I am curious and would want to see the sequel.

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Yet another shipment with no deodorant. Dark times ahead.

The Bad

Like I mentioned, the movie did a good job establishing the characters and the premise. But the flip side of that coin is that too much setup can slow the pace, and it seemed at times that this movie dragged a little. Another problem with a thorough setup is running time. It seemed that in order to get under the 2 hour mark the movie had to rush the ending a little bit. I felt like the resolution maybe came a little to easy and too quickly. Some critics were also turned off by the obvious “wait for the sequel” ending, but that is to be expecting with these types of book adaptations.

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“Let’s get out of this corn and start filming the sequels.”

The Comps

Obviously the main similar movies are the above mentioned teenage apocalypse competition. For me the recipe for this movie seemed like a little Lord of the Flies +  some Hunger Games + a smidge of Ender’s Game + a little bit of Super8/Goonies. If you liked any of those movies I think you’ll enjoy this.

The Conclusion

Ultimately I go to the movies to be entertained and to enjoy myself. This movie did well in both those areas. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it did an admirable job of avoiding some of the cheesy-ness of some of some similar movies. I’ll slide this movie into 2nd place in the aforementioned hierarchy. Still behind Hunger Games, but slightly ahead of Divergent. That leaves the Giver in 4th. Even though it is aimed strongly at teens, I think most people would enjoy this entertaining action movie.

 

Final Verdict: “Really Good”– Worth seeing in the theater

DVD: Worth paying to rent or stream.

RT Audience Score: 81

CinemaScore: A-

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IMDB Rating: [imdblive:rating]