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jueves, diciembre 7, 2023

The Maze Runner ***

The Maze Runner ***A thrilling adaptation of the young adult novel. It seems that Hollywood has found the key that opened the gold mine they found with young adult novels a few years ago, following the success of Harry Potter and Twilight, which arguably have nothing to do with each other or with this at hand, but that made the film industry realize the enormous economic and creative potential that was in this type of novel. The succession of titles linked to the genre has been enormous, but success has been limited to a short number of them, who have managed to fit better with the audience that has suddenly stopped beside certain types of productions and has opted for a more consistent to new tastes. For example, supernatural beings and do not seem to call the public’s attention more than in television series, and vampires, wolf men have disappeared almost completely from this kind of movies, and failed after the Shadowhunters, or Vampire Academy or Beautiful Creatures, although the latter deserved much better luck than it had. The recent success of Divergent and shortly after, The Fault in our Stars, suggests that the public is now more interested in dystopian futures and real stories.

Obviously The Maze Runner falls within the first category, blending science fiction, action and intrigue. It plays in the league of The Hunger Games, one of the references that the author of the novels, James Dashner, has employed when referring to his novels, along with The Lord of the Flies and the series Lost. All are evident in a plot that puts young people in a hostile environment and fighting for survival, not really knowing what happens to them, or why they are in this situation or even who they really are. Because that is the start of the plot and the film. An elevator goes up, a young man inside, the doors open to The Glade, full of other young men and he barely remembers his name (in the novel, in the film takes to get the name). That’s how Thomas gets to the Glade, taken by other young people who show him how they live surrounded by a maze from which they have not found out an exit yet, the doors are closed at night, preventing terrible monsters access to the Glade. The arrival of a girl, the first one, with a strange message, completely change their lives, complicated enough, forcing them to find out the exit as soon as possible.

One of the best things about the novel is that, in fact, The Maze Runner is just a presentation, a first act of what is to come. We can’t almost intuit the world in which we are getting and the situation in which the characters are really, until you got to the second novel. And the film succeeds in that aspect, conveying the confusion, fear, constant danger and continuous action. The debutant director Wes Ball, coming from the field of art direction (always in computer graphics) and visual effects, makes an excellent job to show the universe in which these children live, the impossible maze with gigantic proportions and full of dangers. The same applies to the Grievers, one of the keys of the novel, which are the perfect enemies, blending machine and beast in an impressive way.

The pace of the film is great and keeps you glued to the seat throughout the film between races, fights, arguments, plot twists, discoveries and pure adventure. But that is charged on the characters, which prevents us to know them as we do in the book. Because even without memories, the characters have a personality, a way of understanding life, what happens to them and why they have to fight or not. And that is less exploited than it should, in favor of action and adventure, always with that tone of science fiction that has history and will, hopefully, be explored in the future. Do not forget the young actors, with a cast led by Dylan O’Brien, which gives his best both physically and psychologically, and is fully escorted by side, especially the trio of young British actors Thomas Sangster, Kaya Scodelario and the «villain» of the function, Will Poulter. In the three of them and the young Blake Cooper, is the key to the film, how with a few lines of dialogue make their characters into three-dimensional beings, despite the constraints of history.

I will not engage in polemics about faithfulness to the original text of the novel, which I’ve read previously. Yes, I understand the anger of some fans. No, I do not share it. I like that the film is different from the book, which has its own identity, to function as a free adaptation, not a carbon copy of the story you’ve seen in the novel. There are many changes. I accept and embrace all, though some are not suitable. One particularly damaging to the film, the reference to the Grievers sting and the Changing, which in the film, as it is told, it makes little sense. But the rest are welcome. Since the resolution of the maze to the story itself, from the design of the Glade to the characters themselves, I like the changes. They have made the film surprise me. For good. And leaves behind a very entertaining story full of action, with intrigue, adventure and certainly with disturbing moments, as well as laying the groundwork for the sequel and leave us wanting to know more about this world and its characters. Yes, it lacks some dramatic weight, some empathy with the characters, and you can tell. But the film is still a good action movie and science fiction. Hopefully, the beginning of what is to come.

Jesús Usero



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