The Maze Runner (2014)

This review is going to have spoilers in it. I normally try to avoid them, but it's really kinda necessary to understand the massive problems with this movie - mind you, it's not ALL problems, but there are enough that they need to be called out. There's your warning.

Here's the setup for the movie: Some kind of significant solar flare happened that "scorched the earth" causing global devastation, famine, wars, and general badness. Next, the sun creates a virus that turns people into 28 Days Later or Resident Evil style killing machines. Then, it is discovered that some children being born have a natural immunity to the virus. Of course, the way you test viral immunity is by spending billions of dollars to wipe people's memories and stick them in an isolated ecosystem where they can seemingly survive forever so long as they don't go out into the maze that you constructed to kill them all. Then, if they ever get through the maze that is designed to kill them, you can explain everything that has happened thus far.

All the while, you must use your vast technological greatness to constantly monitor with remote cameras to determine what makes these children so special (even though you could probably have solved that by sequencing their genes.) I say children, but all of them appear to be in their mid-20s. I don't know how old they're supposed to be, but I suspect it's not mid-20s – or even late 20s. It's also unclear why you would need to study brain activity of someone who has a viral immunity. It's also unclear why you would need to test them by having them run through a maze – nothing about the virus infecting people with the inability to deal with mazes and electronic robot spiders is mentioned at any point. And I wonder how they would have found that out anyway.

So, the set up for the movie isn't particularly good. But that's not unusual for these kinds of movies. Instead, we concentrate on what the movie actually is: and what it is... isn't the worst thing ever. The group of boys (and the one girl) who have set up a kind of small society in this refuge don't actually know anything about the outside world, why they're there, or that anyone needs them to do anything. Why the kids find it necessary to run through the maze in the first place is essentially the same as why it was necessary to climb Everest – because it was there.

The director does a pretty good job of developing the atmosphere for the movie. The glade that they live in has the feel of an encampment from the survivor reality TV show. If you don't think too hard about how they built the things that are in it or how they're managing to get food, then the daytime shots are reasonable. It's at night, especially in the maze, that the darkness obscures a thrilling fear lurking in the shadows. On top of that, almost all the 20 something-year-old teenagers put in pretty good performances.

If you can't see it, it's still a giant evil spider-monster.
The fact that the giant Robo spiders only come out at night makes it a little easier for the CG guys to do their job. You can fudge around the edges when you're dealing with very little light, and the result is a more believable creature that is still otherworldly in appearance – part insect, part robot, and part wild animal.

Acting was pretty good
Plot was wicked stupid
Dialogue was tolerable
Direction was good
Effects were very good

Bottom Line: If you don't think too hard about it, the movie can certainly be enjoyable.



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