All original written content is (c) 2014 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
THIS WEEK: Surprise! Another YA post-apocalyptic novel series comes to the screen while everyone waits for the next HUNGER GAMES installment.
This time it’s James Dashner’s book series about a group of mostly teenage boys who are stuck for three years in a lovely forest/field surrounded by a giant rock maze full of nasties when finally Thomas shows up with a pair of cojones and decides they should actually try gettin’ out.
(NOTE: I had not and had not even heard of the book before seeing the movie.)
Written by Noah Oppenheim and Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin; Directed by Wes Ball
- Great, great opening sequence. Once you get past the mercifully quick wretching (teens love their vomit!), you really get sucked into Thomas’s situation and feel his fear and confusion.
- Pieces of the puzzle fall into place at different paces but mostly satisfyingly. Naturally Thomas asks a bunch of questions which get some answers [MIKE: It’s called “exposition”]. No, “exposition” is like a world’s fair–you’re a moron. Anyway, some explanations are kinda throw-away writer excuses (“Everything you’ve thought of, we’ve already tried”–yeah, right) but overall most of it makes sense as you go along, and the solving the mystery is fun.
- Acting and characters are pretty good. Dylan O’Brien as Thomas and most of the other guys do a good job. Will Poulter as Gally looks like he just stepped out of a 60s Leave It Beaver or Dennis The Menace episode and makes a good bully/wussy.
- Great production design and sets. You believe the maze walls and their movement, along with their imposing appearance. Great sound effects and camera angles helped too.
- The scorpion-like “griever” creatures that roam the maze looked appropriately deadly, gross and scary.
- If you buy into the premise, there’s some genuine edge-of-your-seat, stop-eating-your-popcorn moments of suspense.
- Not as much character development to make you care as much about the other characters as you’d like.
- Some very likable/strong characters won’t be seen again.
- The “grievers” are never explained as to their name, nature, construction or design.
- No explanation why there are no chicks. Is there another area somewhere with just girls? Guessing they don’t want the boys fornicating, but…(hey, no spoilers). If I was a teen and had to live on a sausage farm for three years, I’d have to “release the hounds” of my hormones somehow! If yer not gay, that’s gonna be a problem. (And what about those that were? Sexuality wasn’t addressed at all. Probably ‘cause of the YA thing. But don’t tell me you didn’t think about it!)
- Metallic limbs vs. wooden walls? Metal should win every time. It doesn’t.
- Where the hell were the bathrooms? What kind of supplies did they get? After food, I’d want toilet paper.
- The problem with such a massive mystery is that is must to pay off by the end. It doesn’t. This is just book one of FOUR books (a trilogy and a “prequel”). So if you’re not a fan of the LORD OF THE RINGS-type “let’s end it just as things get interesting”, you’ll be disappointed if not downright pissed. Clearly just chapter one.
The only people who should see this in the theater are those that have read and really enjoyed the books and need the giant screen experience. Everyone else, just wait till the series is complete and then see ‘em all in a row so you get the full story. Don’t get sucked in.
P.S.: Pascale can help you navigate the maze of getting a cool commission of any character you want. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, mega-post-apocalyptic corporations or organizations or Young Adult novel fans. Bru wonders if there’s another Glade area with just teenage women so he can make the “maze funner.”