Ah mazes! Who doesn’t like a good Labyrinth to get stuck into every now and then – speaking of which, why aren’t there more of them around? The Red Dragon has planned for the future his wedding celebration wherein the unsuspecting and specially chosen guests will find themselves propelled from their seats into a maze from which there is no escape unless they can solve the various riddles and defeat the multitudinous oozing monsters they will encounter, whilst I and my pristine yet equally black hearted bride will watch from a hilltop and record events for posterity. Something which isn’t all that different from the premise of this film, which sees a host of youngsters shoved into the heart of an enormous maze over the period of some years, each with no memory of their lives before this ingress and equally with no apparent way to get out. Their section is fairly large with fertile land to farm, but it is surrounded by enormous walls and outwith the sanctuary they find themselves in the maze harbours dangers which routinely claim the lives of the brave and intrepid amongst them who attempt to find an exit.
It’s based on the 2009 young adult novel by James Dashner, and there is an interesting difference between this and the likes of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent‘ in that with those two franchises, at least early on, the larger universe is glossed over – The Hunger Games the novel is very weak on explaining in a believable way how North America is now reduced to thirteen disparate districts controlled by a remote hub, for example, and so the film more or less just dispenses with addressing the issue, much as how in Divergent we know nothing about what lies beyond the city borders and yet it seems all but impossible that the residents wouldn’t know themselves. Here there is an attempt to explain the scenario within a larger context, and it’s this revelation that undermines much of the rest of the film as it just seems daft to say the least.
Nor does it seem likely that one of the sprightly young things couldn’t find a way to climb the maze walls, especially since some of them are draped in foliage, and to make matters worse the moment when the hero (played by Dylan O’Brien) really establishes himself is just really flimsy – in terms of the story it works, the sequence of action shots showing it doesn’t though. Despite these faults it’s still reasonably entertaining and has some good visual work to enjoy, as well as some ‘Lord of the Flies’ moments that you’ll never see coming (sarcasm). With Will Poulter and Kaya Scoledario in support along with Particia Clarkson in an identical role to Kate Winslet in Divergent and Meryl Streep in ‘The Giver‘. Look out for legendary effects creator Stan Winston’s name etched into one of the walls too (noted for his work on the Terminator, Jurassic Park and Predator franchises as well as ‘The Thing’ 82, ‘Aliens’ 86, … ).