The Maze Runner
Thomas lands unexpectedly in a rigidly structured dystopian future, and unable to accept the conditions and rules around him he shakes up the status quo and starts thinking for himself.
From the first this film is unsettling. Thomas awakes in an elevator with a ferocious looking caged animal and does not know where or who he is. On reaching the top the elevator is opened by a group of boys around his own age and he soon realises he's not in kansas anymore. The storyline is reminiscent of "Lord of the Flies" to a certain extent but it has a fresh, new feel to it. All the boys have entered this world though the elevator not remembering how they got there but eventually remembering their names.
Dylan O'Brien (Teen Wolf) is exceptional as Thomas, and there are stand out performances from Kaya Scoderlario (Skins), Will Poulter (The Family) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually). With special mentions for Ki Hong Lee and Blake Cooper. Although the inimitable Patricia Clarkson (The Untouchables, Easy A) is mostly wasted in her tiny cameo, I'm hoping she fares better in the other films of this trilogy (yes, Maze Runner 2 (the Scortch Trials) is on its way).
The boys have a fairly good community spirit and are thrown sideways when a girl is sent up in the elevator. Things start to change dramatically from there.
When Thomas finally enters the maze as a runner (not a spoiler, it's in the title people) the tension is relentless as the creatures who attack them are extremely frightening. Not for me to give away this part of the film, but it is rated PG 13 for a reason.
Will Poulter plays the antagonist to perfection, as his character is an extreme bully and tries to keep everyone in line, which doesn't work out too well for him really.
The set decoration, casting and costumes are excellent, you are drawn totally into this created world. And, for the most part the film holds together well and keeps the viewer occupied. It is the ending which lets it down, as the penultimate and final reveals happen the credits roll and you're left a little stunned about what actually happened because after all the relentless tension it's just over. Of course, readers of the books know what's coming.
30 Sept 2014: Costing just $34 million to make (in comparison The Avengers production costs were $220 million and in it's opening weekend box office earnings were $207 million) The Maze Runner is currently sitting at worldwide box office earnings of $148 million, it opened in theatres on 19 Sept 2014.