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The Daily Wildcat

 

    Maze Runner: Alex’s perspective

    %0920th+Century+Fox

    20th Century Fox

    We’re still living in the shadow of the boy wizard. Ever since “Harry Potter” became the third-highest grossing film franchise of all-time, Hollywood has been trying to recreate the box office magic by adapting young adult fiction novels to the big screen.

    *RELATED CONTENT:* “Maze Runner: Mia’s Perspective”:http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2014/09/maze-runner-mias-perspective

    Post-“Harry Potter” and post-“Twilight,” we’ve entered into a new young adult adaptation phase. 2010’s “The Hunger Games” and its 2012 sequel “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” ushered in the “bleak, dystopian world,” with “Divergent” following suit in 2014.

    With “The Maze Runner” throwing its hat into the ring, there are now three major, similarly-themed franchises, the “Big Three,” in play.

    Skeptical questions accompany each new release. Has the tipping point been reached? Have we broken carrying capacity? Thankfully, “The Maze Runner” has not tipped the scales, due in large part to its fresh approach.

    Remembering nothing but his name, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) arrives in a large, verdant glade via freight elevator. A society of boys, all of whom arrived in the Glade the same way as Thomas, co-exist in a hunter-gatherer situation.

    The class-based societies and authoritarian governments of “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” are gone. This isn’t “1984” or “Brave New World” so much as it is “Lord of the Flies.” It’s gritty and human.

    It’s also refreshing to see something as anomalous as a peaceful patch of fields and forests — in place of sterile gray cities and dirty gray districts. In the line of adapted young adult fiction, this film is the best looking since the later, gorgeous installments of the “Harry Potter” films.

    An ever-shifting maze encloses the Glade, trapping the boys. They’ve been held prisoner in paradise for three years, and there’s no end in sight, until Thomas shows up.

    A great sense of mystery permeates the whole film. When the sun sets, ominous, unknown bumps in the night can be heard from the Maze, and there are still the questions of why the boys are there and who put them there.

    O’Brien as Thomas makes for an earnest, likable lead.

    However, this film pales in comparison to its young adult brethren in terms of female roles, especially considering the other films have strong characters played by today’s best young actresses. “The Hunger Games” has Jennifer Lawrence, and “Divergent” has Shailene Woodley.

    What makes this even more of a shame is that if you’ve seen the British TV show “Skins,” you know Kaya Scodelario can be a force. Here’s hoping she gets more to chew on in the sequel.

    The premise of the film, boys trapped in a glade surrounded by an ominous maze, is so basic that it almost feels allegorical, like a Greek myth. That’s why it’s something of a disappointment when the explanatory revelations start coming in droves at the end.

    Of the Big Three young adult franchises, I most want to return to the world of “The Maze Runner.” However, the ending teased a world that seems more in line with the other dystopian franchises. Hopefully, the sequel can maintain the fresh approach established by this film.

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    Follow Alex Guyton on Twitter.

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