Is it me or are these “teenage dystopic futuristic” films getting just a bit out of hand? I mean, clearly there’s an audience for them, but what seemingly started with The Hunger Games back in 2011 has now spawned a few not too dissimilar “spin-offs.” Of course we all know of Katniss in the aforementioned film, one that’s only one installment left (as of this writing), but we were then introduced to Divergent last year, then The Giver and now The Maze Runner. Now before that’s mis-construed as negative, let me say that I’ve actually enjoyed all of these films. There aren’t that many of them and they are very interesting viewing. But I just wonder when these will cross the line? Having said all that, what happens when you mix in a bit of The Hunger Games and throw in a bit of Lord of the Flies? Well, The Maze Runner, naturally.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) has lost his memory. He’s found himself on an elevator of sorts, only to be greeted by a bunch of teenage boys. He doesn’t know where he is, how he got there or even his own name. He soon learns that he’s in a place called “The Glade” and that once a month new supplies and a new face come to join those already there. He forms a bond with Alby (Aml Ameen), the leader of the so-called group. Days pass and Thomas’ memory returns. He’s also infatuated with the giant maze that encompasses them. After a series of strange occurrences, Thomas manages to make enemies with Gally (Will Poulter), someone who is just fine with the status quo and doesn’t want to rock the boat. And after he and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) navigate the maze a few times, it’s clear that there might actually be a way out, but convincing the others to join him is only half the battle…
To be honest, I actually really enjoyed The Maze Runner – it’s well-acted and has a good supporting cast and had me from the opening scene. There’s no denying that this is going to be yet another trilogy, but it’s one I’m looking forward to. And, at the risk of sounding like a misogynist, it’s nice to see one of these films feature a male protagonist (will all due respect to Katniss and Tris). The film seemed to flow a bit more for me as the opening scene really started off quick out of the gate and never really looked back. Dylan O’Brien seems to be a competent actor, but I do think that the supporting cast adds to what made this really entertaining. Off topic, it was hard for me to take Will Poulter seriously as an antagonist – I’ve got the image of him singing TLC’s “Waterfalls” from We’re the Millers, burned into my head. Still, he plays the part well. There’s more to The Maze Runner than meets the eye – give it a shot.
Video: How’s it look?
The Maze Runner comes to Blu-ray with a fine-looking 2.40:1 AVC HD image. There should be a different scale when it comes to reviewing films like this as it somewhat thwarts convention with the physical look and feel. Shades and hues of green dominate the landscape with the ivy running up the walls of the maze. This seems to have a more polarized look to it than other films thus giving us the darker facial features, shadows under the eyes and so forth. Of course contrast and black levels seem to be spot on and as I usually say with a new to Blu-ray film, I’m hard-pressed to find much, if anything, wrong with the transfer.
Audio: How’s it sound?
This movie is loud! Loud, I tell you! Vocals are crisp and clean, but some of the surround effects really take things up a notch or two. The movement of the concrete walls of the maze or the little nuances like the legs of the grievers really add another level of depth to the mix. Certainly the DTS HD Master Audio mix should be good as it just “fits” with a movie of this genre. Surround effects are plentiful and robust with the front stage doing more than its fair share. An outstanding audio presentation.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The film raked in over $100 million at the box office, so Fox has wisely loaded this down with supplements galore. Let us take a look.
Comic Book – If you wanted to know a bit more about what happened prior to the film, this 24 page “mini” comic book provides some insight.
Deleted Scenes – This is a quite a robust selection of deleted scenes, running nearly 20 minutes.
Navigating The Maze: The Making of The Maze Runner – This is a 5 part “documentary” (which is actually a series of featureless) that gives some insight into the production, the visual effects and casting.
The Maze is Born
Creating the World
Finding the Gang
The Movie Inside the Maze
The Digital Details
The “Chuck” Diaries – If there’s comic relief in the movie, it comes in the form of Chuck. This is actually a pretty interesting little piece that tells how he was cast (hint: Twitter). Never underestimate the power of social media, folks.
Visual Effects – We get a pretty robust selection with optional commentary by director Wes Ball as to how some of the shots were achieved. Interesting.
Visual Effects Reel
VFX Breakdown by Method
Ruin: A Wes Ball short film in 2D and 3D with commentary – Ball’s earlier work is here in its complete form. In 3D no less.
Audio Commentary – Director Wes Ball is joined by Screenwriter T.S. Nowlin. The duo actually make a very interesting pair and offer up an assortment of little tidbits about the film, the visual effects used, casting and the overall storyline. It’s a good listen.
Still Galleries – Divided into three parts, these are just photos from the shoot.