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Stale book makes for stale movie

Screen translation doesn't improve 'Maze Runner'

Based on the 2009 novel of the same name, “Maze Runner” does a poor job of connecting the dots and delivering a story worth watching. However, if the book, the first installment of the three-part teen fiction written by James Dashner, didn’t read like a 10-year-old boy wrote the tale, then the movie might have been better.

It begins with a bunch of boys trapped in a maze with no way out. Everything needed is given to the boys from the Creators through an elevator, known as the box, which comes up once a month with supplies and a new member.

Both the book and the movie start three years after the creation of the maze and by this point the boys, known as Gladers, have established a social order where everybody has a specific job. When the boys come out of the box, they have no recollection of anything, not even their names — that is for a few days – and then they remember only their name.

The catch is that no one is allowed to leave the maze, except Runners. Their job is to map out the maze before the doors close at the end of the day. If they don’t make it back in time, they are left out in the maze with strange half-spider, half-mechanical creatures, called Grievers.

Two points are made clear throughout the tale: that no one has survived a night out in the maze and no one who has seen a Griever has lived to tell about it.

The film might have been better if the script was better. It is overall lacking in emotion, which leaves little room for improvisation, and is highly predictable. All the actors live and breathe the script, which requires no creativity.

With most adaptations, details are cut from the book and reworked into the movie, but in doing so with this adaptation, it left more holes than it filled.

For example, when one of the Gladers is stung by a Griever, he is banished from the Glade, but when Alby (Aml Ameen), the designated leader, is stung, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) expend an unnecessary amount of energy in an attempt to save him.

The irony is that the trio is out in the maze after the doors shut, the place they would otherwise banish Alby to die because he is stung. This seems rather useless if there is no known antidote and according to their customs the individual stung is forced out into the maze to die anyway.

In the book, there is an antidote, making all the effort worthwhile and eventually save Alby.

Other errors include incongruent weather patterns, amongst other things added in simply for effect. There are strange jungle bird sounds when Thomas goes into a forest that is clearly not tropical, and later, there are crows cawing and flying off into the distance. Wes Ball just wanted to add effect but clearly didn’t think it was necessary to stick to the same climate.

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Theresa (Kaya Scodelario) is the first girl to come up in the box. In the movie she has no role. She does nothing but add a sense of poor gender rivalry where the boys pick on the girl.

Also, Theresa and Thomas are supposed to have a strange telepathic connection but all you get are awkward interactions similar to a first date.

It is just a modern take on “Lord of the Flies,” where a bunch of rowdy boys try to take control and ultimately resolve to a primitive, crude fight for control of the group. A poorly-executed take, at that.

Moriah Carty is the assistant culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached or on Twitter @MoriahCarty.

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