If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
*spoilers, of course*
James Dashner’s book, The Maze Runner, came out in October 2009. What makes this book stand out from other YA novels is simply: the maze. Why are these young teens in the maze? What’s the point? What exactly is the maze? It was enough to get people’s attention and eventually have a movie made.
A Good Start
The beginning of the movie is straight out of the book. From Thomas riding through the ground to the maze and everyone greeting him. From Alby showing him around to his problems with Gally, the movie is pretty faithful to the book. They throw a party (which isn’t in the book) but it is a good way to introduce characters all in one sitting.
Lack of Character
But the one thing about the characters is the development they get. Sure we know their names and what they do, but nothing much else. Newt must be a good guy because he’s usually on Thomas’s side. Minho sticks up for him, so they’re immediately friends, but because Gally sees the situation for what it is he’s the antagonist.
Seeing it in movie form, I think Gally had every right to be suspicious. Thomas is a “Gary Stu.” He was able to uncover secrets in the maze within his three days compared to the others three years. But because Gally wants to follow the rules they established this whole time and isn’t on Thomas’s side, we have to hate him.
We never heard Newt’s backstory of once being a runner, or have any of Minho’s sass, or the friendship that grows between Thomas and Chuck. Oh, there is that moment with Chuck and Thomas when he’s in the pit, but let’s be honest, we know it was only thrown in there for the audience to care about Chuck when he dies. And we know Chuck is going to die (you don’t have to even read the book) because when Thomas tells Chuck he can give the gift to his parents himself, you know it’s not going to end well.
Then there are some characters who barely get any screen time at all. There’s Frypan, who is pretty big in the book but is never actually mentioned by name in the movie. They never once say Frypan, only Fry. I love when he goes into the maze with Thomas and Minho because that’s his one scene where he gets to do something.
Not-So-Much Forced Romance
One major change from the book was Thomas and Teresa’s telepathic abilities. I’ve read the director didn’t want to add it because it would look stupid with the two just standing there with voiceovers on top. For me, it wasn’t a big deal because I was never a fan of their relationship anyway and this made it stronger. You have to praise the movie for not having any romantic relationship going on. It’s a nice breath of fresh air from everything else (whether the Scorch Trials changed that I don’t know.)
I can’t believe I’m bringing this up, but something people have said is when Teresa is sent up in the box and none of the guys make any comments about a girl finally being there. In the book there are plenty of crude remarks, but does it really need to be there? Do we really need to hear that?
Another change is the maze itself. In the book, the maze is actually in a building, which makes it impossible for them to escape. Hell, even Newt said he jumped off from the top of the maze to hurt himself. It’s probably the biggest criticism about the movie. “Well, why don’t they just make a ladder?” In the book it makes sense.
It’s the little things people. If they just had the maze in a building then the ladder argument wouldn’t matter. (But we needed that shot of the maze after they leave.)
The grievers were my biggest concern. In the book I pictured them as a giant blob made out of metal, but I was pleased with what the movie gave. It was a creepy monster. A pretty stupid monster, but creepy at least.
Sure the movie and the book have tropes other YA novels have. It’s a group of children people want to kill, the government is bad, the main character is the savior…you know, but how can we forget romantic comedies or even superhero movies. They’re all going by the same formula, and I always thought The Maze Runner stood out a little more than others, at least because of the idea.
The movie does have a lot of exposition, but you have to give it credit for the amount of money and time they had to complete it (34 million and a month I believe.)
That’s one thing I will say. There’s so much that goes on in a book, from the exposition to the characters, that when it’s put into the big screen the stuff we love gets thrown out because the main parts of the story need to be told. Sure book lovers will sit through a five-hour movie if everything from the book is in there, but most people won’t. The Hobbit films got people tired, so going beyond the two-hour mark is sometimes too much for people. It can’t be easy putting so much from a book into the film, but we expect so much more. This can be said for any novel to movie adaptation.
Not that I’m trying to defend the movie’s faults, but it is a point I wanted to make.
Moving onto the ending, everything seems the same. From Chuck being shot to Gally getting killed and everyone is rescued. However, we did not get them going into the city, seeing some Cranks, being put into the building, and waking up to find their saviors dead. I guess they wanted to leave that all for the second movie (if it’s even in there.)
I didn’t have much to complain about the ending. Of course, it’s setting up for the sequel, but the shot of the Scorch was cool. There was no way to end this without setting up for the sequel since that’s how it is in the books. We don’t get a resolution in either. But like I said, I liked it.
My final thoughts: it was a good adaptation from the book and most of it followed the book well. I really wish we knew more about the characters (obviously those who read the book do) but it’s one thing really lacking anymore. They need to stop being background characters and come to life.
I thought the acting was good and I like all of the actors themselves so that helps. The Maze Runner was able to stand out from other YA novels solely because of the maze, but when the secret is revealed it is a bit of a letdown. But without the sequel and before the ending is revealed, wanting to know what the maze was all about is what caused people to like the film.
And it’s a solid movie.