Sunday, 20 September 2015

Review: The Maze Runner (second-pass)

World of Blackout Film Review

The Maze Runner Poster

The Maze Runner (second-pass)
Cert: 12A / 113 mins / Dir. Wes Ball / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

On a crisp September's afternoon, Mrs Blackout and myself were lucky enough to be shown the first Maze Runner film as part of a private-screening event*1. I had seen the film before and rather enjoyed it, Mrs Blackout hadn't. This would be interesting.

As it turns out, my better-half enjoyed it (luckily, since it was in preparation for a 4DX screening of The Scorch Trials immediately afterwards), and since I'd recently seen the film's sequel, this gave me a unique opportunity to watch the film retrospectively on a big screen, but with a particular emphasis on how it relates to its successor.

Now, obviously this is true for all movies, but you can only see The Maze Runner for the first time once. The story is told almost exclusively from Thomas' point-of-view, and the viewer learns of his surroundings and amnesiac back-story at the same time as Thomas does. With this in mind, a lot of the tension in the film's first-act is lost, as you already know the answers to Thomas' (and the Gladers') questions, although luckily TMR is a well-enough-made film that it isn't lessened by this. Indeed, the dreams and flash-memory sequences act more solidly as call-forwards when you know what they specifically relate to.

That said, a re-watch of the first film reinforces the feeling that too many details are left unexplored, perhaps having not been fully realised in the first place*2. The most prominent example of this is the bio-mechanical Griever spider-creatures. Since no-one (prior to Thomas' arrival) makes it back from the maze to tell what they look like, why make them so intricate and physically imposing? As the maze is fully monitored (as is the entire system), couldn't unsuccessful Runners just be terminated by remotely-manned gun/dart emplacements, with sound-effects broadcast over a speaker system to give the impression of monsters within the stone labyrinth? The Grievers seem like a monumental drain on WCKD's development and production time, given that they don't really need to exist and the company is supposed to be working on finding a cure for the Flare.

Moreover, it becomes more apparent (having seen the sequel already) that any details which aren't bestowed upon the viewer in this first film aren't going to be handed out in future installments, either. When we leave The Glade in this movie, we aren't going back; it's not so much a base-camp, as the first step on a one-way journey*3. So with that in mind, perhaps the questions arising from 'the ridiculous amounts of engineering and construction effort which would go into making a 200ft high, moving stone maze full of artificially created lifeforms and a verdant acre of farmable land in the middle of a global desert, in order to monitor the brain activity of 30 kids, which could be performed equally well by putting pads on their temples as they played on a PS4 in a lab' aren't worth answering after all. Because as much fun as The Maze Runner is (and it is), the notion that it's all a science experiment seems more unfeasible than the experiment itself…

IAN WCKD sits at the head of a large oval-table with AVA PAIGE and the other BOARD MEMBERS.

AVA: Following your request for our full, backdated reports, you can see that the subjects continue to thrive in The Glade, having mastered team-work and self-sufficiency to create a miniature version of society among themselves with a minimum of outside supervision. The addition of a new inhabitant once a month has given a-

IAN: Yeah yeah, I read that. And it's odd, because I thought we were trying to analyse the physical differences between immune and prone subjects with a view to eradicating a global plague which has all but destroyed human civilisation. Only in the document I received, it seems like your twelve trillion dollars of funding has given us a three year program to determine which of the subjects can run the fastest and who's best left in charge of growing the asparagus? I knew I should never have left The Umbrella Corporation…

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Not that you'll have to now, but yes.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Worth buying to stick on the shelf in preparation for a marathon when the final movie is released.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Young cast = on great form.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I think it tells the story incredibly well, but sketches in many of the details.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
No. Why not?

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
The Maze Runner stars Dylan O'Brien, who appeared in 2013's The Internship alongside Tiya Sircar, the voice of Sabine in Star Wars Rebels.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 An actual, proper private screening (yeah, get me. No, you shut up), not just one of those films where I'm the only audience member. Actually it's worth pointing out that even though the event was invite-only and very select, there were still more people in attendance than Friday's opening-day Everest showing…

*2 Although they might well be, in the expanded narrative of the books. I haven't read the books. I'm not going to read the books. I don't have the time to read the books. I've been to the cinema 111 times this year, when do you think I have the time to read books?

*3 Yeah, unless of course the third/fourth/fifth books take place in The Glade because Thomas decides it's just easier to say 'fuck the apocalypse' and run a garden centre instead. I wouldn't know, would I? I haven't read the books. Didn't you even read *2?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a Comment