So of course, I was intrigued. I picked up the book from my local library, and got stuck in. It’s an ingenious – if deeply disturbing – concept: children are placed, memories wiped, in a maze. They don’t know how they got there, why they’re there, or how to escape. If you think about it, it’s really sick. These kids are not just trapped, but taunted with the hope of freedom; they just need to solve the crazy killer maze.
It saddens me to say that the ingenuity ended there. The book is riddled with irrelevant and useless clutter that adds nothing to the story. The narrative is drab, and the narrator is wildly inconsistent, and by extension impossible to relate to.
That’s why it makes me so happy that the movie adaptations are freaking awesome. I feel like the producers have been perceptive and ambitious enough to pick up on the promise in the premise (please excuse the awkward wordplay.) They’ve taken what is cool and exciting about the books, and slapped them on a big screen, and guys – it looks good.
The writers have been really thoughtful in the way they portray the story; they’ve cut out a lot of faff, and focused in on the core issues that the books dabble with. The mystery is more intense, the ethics are more confusing, and the result is a fast-moving, kick-ass and yet thoughtful cinematic experience.
I love what the actors and script writers have done with the characters. They took flat, superficial characters and made them into living, breathing humans. I’m not just talking about the visuals here (although they help!); characters’ motivations, personalities and strengths become clear in these adaptations, but most importantly – and most poignantly – their devoted brotherhood.
One of my favourite moments in the first movie is when Newt looks Thomas in the eye, and forgives him. He can forgive this former employee of WCKD, even though he played a part in getting them all into this maze, and the forgiveness is so complete that he’s willing to follow him to what is very probably going to be his death. That’s powerful, and I think it’s that concept of unwavering loyalty, selflessness and friendship that makes these films more than just a series of cool shots and fantastic graphics.
Speaking of graphics – I can’t miss out the fact that these films are visual stunners. The cinematography in the movies is breath-taking; while it would have been easy to entertain us all with blood, gore, and the same old dystopian settings, I really felt like care had been taken over the design of the settings. It felt creative, imaginative, and I really appreciate that.
I also love the way the second movie – The Scorch Trials – advances the story. Admittedly, they’ve strayed pretty far away from the book, and yet – I could not care less. The plot twists and turns and the whole thing is graceful and just about makes sense. That’s something I can’t really say for the books.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want this whole post to be about bashing the Maze Runner books. I have to give Mr Dashner full credit for his ideas; for his story, imagery and characters. Kudos to him. All I’m saying is that while they were born in book form, they’re all grown up and have their crap sorted out in the films. Like Neville Longbottom, or the Ugly Duckling.
Here’s my conclusion: I like the books, more because they are the reason these fabulous movies were created than for any literary brilliance. I can forgive them for being marginally below average.
If you’ve read or seen the Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.