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Movie review: ‘The Maze Runner’ has twists and turns to keep you on edge

I didn't know what I was in for when I sat for the advanced screening of “The Maze Runner,” the science fiction thriller film adaptation of James Dashner's bestselling young adult series. I knew next to nothing about it coming in, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

The movie begins with Thomas (Dylan O'Brien of TV's “Teen Wolf”), who wakes up in a metal cage (the Box) hurtling upward. He does not yet remember his name, but is hauled out into the midst of a bunch of smiling, jeering teenage boys in a walled glade by Gally (Will Poulter) and shown around by leader Alby (Aml Ameen), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and Chuck (Blake Cooper).

But the wall turns out to be a maze which only the strongest and fastest of the boys can run in and out of every day, led by Minho (Ki Hong Lee). Thomas is unusually, almost fatally curious about it; to Gally's chagrin, he ends up saving Minho and Alby's lives from the half-flesh, half-metal monsters lurking inside, the Grievers. And as if the Gladers, as they call themselves, hadn't had enough of the sudden changes, the box comes up prematurely, carrying an unconscious girl bearing a note that reads “She's the last one ever.” And to make matters worse, the girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), does know a name—and it's not hers, but Thomas's.

My rule of thumb is that if I can sit through a movie without once making snarky comments about the craft, then it's good—and in the hands of director Wes Ball, I willingly went along for twisty, maze-like turns of the plot and was still genuinely stunned with how that ending turned out. The special effects are top-notch, but then again, it's almost a crime in this age of technology for a movie's special effects to be anything less than spectacular.

Among the young actors, Poulter really shone in his role. To that end, I was hoping that we'd get to see a glimpse of Gally's backstory between coming to the Glade and meeting Thomas—but that just might be me. I like my antagonists complex and their motivations revealed to be equally so. Judging from the squeals and hoots of the tween and teen audience surrounding me in the cinema, however, I think the physical attractiveness of O'Brien, Sangster, Lee, and Scodelario also helped pull them through.

The 'Maze Runner' cast (from left): Ki Hong Lee, Aml Ameen, Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien, Will Poulter and Thomas Brodie Sangster. Warner Bros. Pictures
Rarely do I find myself in the position of not having read the book before watching the movie, and it turned out to be an interesting experience. It was amazing, being on the edge of my seat in the theater and genuinely unaware as to what will happen next, only due in part to my lack of knowledge about the series.

That was why, when I did my research on the books afterward (having missed the chance to pick up copies on the way out of the closing mall), I was surprised to find that a number of key plot points were changed—to the extent that I don't know how the next two movies will fly with audiences or how those points will be patched up. But I suppose that's the beauty of it.

And if the thunderous round of applause that met the rolling end credits is any indication, it probably won't matter too much. — BM, GMA News

“The Maze Runner” will be showing in cinemas nationwide on September 17.