REVIEW: The Maze Runner for those who HAVE read the book

By Patricia Hului

I HAVE A FEW SIMPLE rules in life. One of them being when it comes to a movie based on a book: don’t watch the movie if you’ve read the book and don’t read the book if you’ve seen the movie.

This rule saved me much heartache.

I decided to break the rule recently. I read The Maze Runner by James Dashner weeks shy of watching the movie screening.

Half of the time watching it, I was holding myself from leaning to the person next to me and saying, “Actually in the book, they did this instead of that.”

Some dubbed The Maze Runner as another Divergent or The Hunger Games.

Personally I think The Maze Runner is different from the rest of the Young Adult novels. No scared girl who suddenly turns into a hero, no alpha female wannabe and of course no insecure girl who suddenly becomes confident after she turned into a vampire.

I guess it is about time for a teenage male to shine as a hero in a book, without the soppy puppy love drama.

The Maze Runner follows the story of Thomas who woke up in a box and zero memories of the past. Then he realizes he is trapped in a massive moving maze with a group of other boys. Then there are half-machine half animals that sting or kill them called the Grievers lurking around the maze.

I would change nothing about the casting so kudos to the casting director. Dylan O’Brien plays Thomas, Aml Ameen plays Alby, Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays Newt (although I did not imagine Newt to be that skinny), a grown-up Will Poulter from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Trader” plays Gally, Ki Hong Lee plays Minho and Chuck played by Blake Cooper is almost like he walked out the book onto the movie screen.

The movie makers still keep the the fictionalised slang from the book (which I love) like greenie, klunk, slopper, shank, shuck and keeper.

I was a bit disappointed because there was less effort to explain all these slangs they used, let alone the social system the boys had developed inside the maze.

One part of the book they decided to drop was the telepathic link between Thomas and Theresa (Kaya Scodelario).

For that I have this to say, “What? Why?” It might be a little bit corny and sound like 1980s sci-fi movie kind of thing but I like the telepathic thing going on between them in the book.

On the silver-screen, the only thing that set Thomas and Teresa apart from the others was that they had dreams of their past lives.

Speaking of their past lives, in the book, if you get stung by a Griever, the Med-Jacks or the doctors will inject you with a Grief serum which then pushes you through a phase called the Changing.

During the Changing, they are supposed to have flashes of memories of their past lives, which is why some of them who were stung during the movie like Ben, Alby and Gally recognise Thomas from outside the Glade.

Let just say the serum in the movie was not delivered the same way as the book.

In the book, Dashner described the Changing in such a horrific way that I could vomit in my throat as I read it, but when I saw it in the movie; I thought “That’s it?”

From the book point-of-view, I think figuring out the code after studying the map plays a huge part of the plot.

In the book, Teresa and few other Runners are cramping their brains trying to figure out the codes. This part wasn’t translated into the movie.

Instead the code was almost an incidental event in the movie.

The book readers who are going to watch the movie will be, “Isn’t Teresa supposed to be here yet?”

Teresa in the pages of The Maze Runner, was supposed to have arrived to the Glade a day after Thomas which is why everyone is suspicious towards the both of them initially since a new person is usually sent into the maze once a month.

The sun also stops to shine after Teresa arrived in the book, which was why as I read the book I imagined a dark maze…dark background…basically everything was supposed to be dark.

In the movie it was bright and sometimes it even rained!

Excuse me for sounding like an obsessive teenage girl who clings to every string of the plot, it is just that I’m such a big fan of the book.

I knew the movie wouldn’t turn out to be exactly like the book but I secretly had high expectations on the movie adaptation.

Besides, it is about time a book about survival and humanity came into the limelight rather than another story of young woman dealing with having a strong identity crisis and romantic infatuation.

Looking on the bright side, I applaud the movie for its fast-paced action scenes which were as good as I imagined them to be, if not better.

I would say all of the running and attacking of half biotic half robotic Grievers are straight from the book.

People behind the costumes and props should take a bow because they are believable. The walls of the Maze are also top notch, haunting and scary just as I imagined it to be.

Directed by Wes Ball, the movie really keeps me on the edge of my seat the whole 113 minutes, even when I knew what would happen next.

As for my fellow bookworms of The Maze Runner, my piece of advice before you head out to watch it in the cinema is to keep an open mind.

I gave this a 3 out of 5.

The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Dexter Darden, Kaya Scodelario,
Rating: PG-13
Running time: 113 minutes.

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