Lost in Trans-maze-tion
The more I think about this film the more I realise that it’s actually not that good. Like Cloud Atlas this has all the tells of a film adaptation of a book and if you dididn’t know… It is a film adaptation of a book.
So before I rant on about how crappy this film is let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed it. I think this will be a bit of a “guilty pleasure” along with the Fifth Element and discreetly farting in lifts – it’s like my own little who dunnit mystery.
Thomas awakes to find himself in an elevator. No memory. Not even a name to put to his own face. The elevator reaches the top and a hatch above him is opened revealing a flock of boisterous teenage boys. Is it technically a flock? I don’t know but it sounds about right.
These kid’s have all had their memories wiped and are sent into ‘the glade’ which is a idyllic slice of tranquility that is in the middle a giant ever changing maze. Sounds nice, no-one to hassle you, except it is solely filled with pubescent boys.
Over time these kid’s have set up their own community with their own laws and factions of people to do different jobs. It an awesome premise and one that you could have spent a whole film exploring but instead we are treated to whistle stop tour of “hey these dudes run, these dudes build stuff, these dudes farm… anyway moving on”. Perhaps the book takes this concept further but its a shame the film glosses over this.
The acting is actually pretty damn good across the board considering this is ‘just another teen adventure film’. Dylan O’Brian who plays our hero Thomas is particularly good; when he arrives in the glade you really believe that he feels scared and disorientated and similarly the lure of the maze feels particularly believable in his hands.
Again though this is where the film is underdeveloped. Within minutes all the teenagers remember their name but that’s it – no other memories come back. Thomas seemingly doesn’t remember that he was ever scared or confused because almost immediately he wants to go in this ominous mountain of a maze. At least find out people’s names first? I mean you wouldn’t take a single driving lesson and go cool – bring out the F1 cars.
After a while Thomas gets his wish and enters the maze and unfortunately enough for him it’s at night time where the maze is filled with these cool part robot, part squid, part cat things that have the sole purpose of killing everything they see. The scenes in the maze are really fun to watch and make up for a lack of world building elsewhere in the film. There’s also enough of these moments to keep your interest throughout the full hour and 50 minutes.
After Thomas becomes the first person to survive a night in the maze a woman is sent into the glade for the first time ever. I know what you are thinking; A love interest in a teen movie? Surely not.
I say love interest but really it’s like giving a pet to a ten year old because she gets all the attention when she first arrives and then she is just sort of ignored. They don’t even change her water.
One of the worst parts about the film is the reveal where Thomas remembers that he is somehow intrinsically connected to why everyone is trapped in the maze. There is no reference point for this. Simply proclaiming that ‘it’ is his fault means nothing because you don’t know what ‘it’ is in the first place.
All this builds up to a rather rushed ending that feels like it has chopped too much out of the book when translating this to a film but for all its faults it is a surprisngly enjoyable film and definitely worth a watch if you can find your way out of your home and down to the cinema.
- The maze running
- Lots of promising ideas
- The ravagers
- Probably misses a lot of nuance from the book
- The ending is kind of rubbish
- Underdeveloped society within the maze