Yesterday I took my 12 year old to see The Maze Runner based on the popular young adult fiction novel by James Dashner. The Maze Runner series is yet another futuristic scenario that depicts a devastated Earth and a near end of the human race. I've read the entire collection, four novels which includes a prequel, along with my son not only because I enjoy this genre, but primarily because I like to know what my children are reading and the discussion that ensues provides a great way to connect with them.
First off, let me reiterate that this review is not solely to critique the actual film adaptation, although, I will briefly discuss that as well. It is, for the purpose of this blog, to make you a more informed parent so you can decide if it is right for your family. The film is rated PG-13 and, as I've said in previous reviews, only you know what your child can and cannot handle. It is my personal stance, however, that if your middle-schooler (or older) wants to see this film, they should have to read the book first. Not just because of the theory that "the book is always better," but also because they will benefit from the more detailed narrative as provided by the author and it will help fill in the gaps.
Besides some mild language, there is very realistic and raw, testosterone-driven violence along with several very intense, scary scenes, particularly involving Grievers - homicidal, robotic bugs the size of small cars. They are definitely enough to cause nightmares for younger viewers, and even my son admitted, they freaked him out.
The movie was generally true to the book with the expected amount of tweaking and, of course, condensing - okay, maybe too much condensing. This seemed to bother my son more than it did me because I've learned to expect this. The main problem I had was neither the characters, nor the plot of the story, fully develop as they do in the book. However, I did not feel any changes made were detrimental or critical to the overall story line. The movie is perhaps nothing more than Cliff Notes for the book. Regardless, the film was virtually non-stop action and suspenseful.
When the early trailers were released some months back, I was disappointed with some of the casting choices. However, I was pleasantly surprised with most of these predominately unknown actors. My favorite performance was delivered by English actor, Thomas Sangster who played Newt. Probably the best part of the production was the set design as it was a near-perfect interpretation of The Glade and The Maze as described by Dashner in the book.
Overall, I feel readers of the series will enjoy the film version. It is nothing brilliant, but then again, neither was the book. It is an entertaining movie that I would recommend for middle and high-school students who have taken the time to read it first! My son and I are both curious, however, how viewers who have NOT read the book will like it. If you fall into this category, please let us know your thoughts.
Read more of my Family Movie Reviews.