The Calico Critic welcomes guest writer Spencer Blohm. After I read and reviewed The Maze Runner back in 2010, I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the cinematic version. Spencer offers his thoughts on the book as well as the movie, which has increased my interest in the series even more. Thanks for your insights, Spencer!
The Maze Runneris a young adult science fiction novel by James Dashner, which was first published in October 2007 and has recently been adapted into a movie by 20th Century Fox. The tale features a protagonist named Thomas, who finds himself in a mysterious environment known as the Glade with no memories beyond his own name. He becomes a part of a community consisting only of other teenage boys (all of whom arrived at the Glade by similar circumstances) and joins their societal system, which is broken down into various departments led by a Keeper. The story has many major similarities to the classic Lord of the Flies, which also centers on a group of boys functioning without the aid of adults (the film is available on Amazon Instant Video, or other on demand services, for those interested in The Maze Runner’s inspiration). The Maze Runner, however, includes an additional dystopian twist that caters to a sci-fi minded audience.
As the title suggests, an enormous maze, which opens each day and closes at night, surrounds the Glade. Within this maze are mechanical Grievers – deadly creatures that emerge during the night. The film's focus is primarily on the boys’ attempts to maneuver the maze and find a way out of the dark environment back to freedom. Other major characters include Alby, the leader of the Gladers, his assistant, Newt, Minho, who is the Runners' keeper and Chuck, a hefty boy who entered the Glade just prior to Thomas.
Like most movies based on books, there are significant differences between the film and written work. While the book portrays the Grievers as odd creatures that are part slug and part machine, the movie makes them appear more like spiders with metal appendages. The book also presents the Runners as boys that detail what they find in the maze on a daily basis. Yet in the movie there's only one maze model, and each of the boys claim to have the maze memorized. In the novel, “the changing,” a physical transformation spurred by a Griever sting which helps the victim recall memories, played a significant role in the life of the Gladers, as did the serum that keeps the boys alive as they go through the changing. In the film, the serum isn't implemented until Teresa, the sole girl in the Glade, presents vials of it to the boys.
The movie adaptation, directed by Wes Ball and starring Dylan O'Brien, took three months to film during the summer of 2013. It received a predominantly positive reception from film critics. Reviewers noted the film's unique plot, the cast's spectacular performances and praised Dashner and Ball for taking chances with the script. It beat out all competing movies during its opening weekend, earning $32.5 million off the bat. On its first night alone, it earned $1.1 million and scored the 6th best September debut for a film.
The novel has inspired two sequels, The Scorch Trials in 2010 and The Death Cure in 2011, and the film has already secured the funds and permission to begin filming the next installment. The Scorch Trials is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2015. The original book's prequel, The Kill Order, was released in 2012, while another prequel has been announced and should be released in 2016 – leaving plenty of material for filmmakers to work with if the series continues to be successful.
Anyone who is interested in young adult science fiction will enjoy both The Maze Runner book and film. Unlike many other adaptations of books to the big screen, the author, Dashner, was fully on board with the conversion. Dashner has been quoted as saying that he had significant input into the film and he is pleased with the final production, meaning you can be sure the film carries the original tone and excitement of the novel!
The Maze Runner Movie Trailer
The Maze Runner Series, Kindle Editions