Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guest Post: Spencer Blohm on The Maze Runner; The Novel and the Movie

The Maze Runner

For those who don’t know, The Maze Runner is a wildly popular New York Times best-selling young adult series by James Dashner, recently converted into a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox. The fascinating and innovative series consists of four novels, The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure and The Kill Order. The first book of the series, the aforementioned The Maze Runner, focuses upon a protagonist named Thomas who enters an elevator, and when the doors close behind him after his exit, he finds himself in a mysterious place called the Glade, with no memory of how he ended up there. Fellow children greet him, who similarly have had their memories erased, and every morning stone doors open to reveal that they are surrounded by an immense maze. Every thirty days, a new member joins the Glade, and a young girl comes bearing a shocking message. Gladers have attempted to solve the maze for over three years with no success, but Thomas discovers that he plays a pivotal role in this new dystopian society.

The author, James Dashner, was closely involved with the writing of the screenplay, as well as casting choices to ensure the best adaptation of his vision. The film's mysterious and groundbreaking science-fiction theme and dark visuals were met with critical praise, and The Maze Runner made $32.5 million at the box office opening weekend and as of the time this article was written had pulled in nearly $200 million worldwide. Rotten Tomatoes awarded the film with a 63% “fresh” rating based on 75 out of 118 review of the film were positive. The Washington Post gave it a 3/4, stating "The Maze Runner unravels a few mysteries, but it spins even more."  The film follows the now stories tradition of bestselling YA series getting turned into films. It’s on the heels of other hits like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Divergent (on the off chance you haven’t seen these films they’re highly recommended for those who have and haven’t read the books, and you can watch on demand through providers like Direct TV or with streaming services like Amazon Prime.)

The film adaptation remained fairly close to the original novel, but is not without a few plot changes by screenwriter T.S. Nowlin. Spoilers may follow, you have been warned!

Thomas (played by newcomer Dylan O’Brien) immediately begins remembering his life before the Glades, which is the most notable difference in the film adaptation in comparison to the book. Alliances were revamped, instead of being at odds with one another, Alby (Aml Ameen) and Thomas are quite friendly. In the suspenseful scene where Alby is close to being stung by a griever, a serum instantly appears, while the serum is ingrained in daily life in the novel. A device within the griever opens a hidden path in the maze, which assists in the escape of Thomas and Minho (Ki Hong Lee), while the book has the pair finding the device, but not understanding its capabilities initially. Due to the nature and limitations of film, the telepathy of Thomas and Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) was not included. During the climax of the film, when finally leaving the maze, the boys are not as discreet as they were in the novel and are ready to attack.

Understandably, these decisions were made to create a film with a stunning visual impact and strong plot, while remaining as close to the original source as possible. Fans of both the novel and film alike eagerly await the sequel, The Scorch Trials, which will hit the big screen on September 18th, 2015. The main characters may have escaped from the maze, but they face even greater obstacles in the thrilling sequel. Filming began earlier this month in New Mexico, with reports of acclaimed Irish actor Aidan Gillen playing the main antagonist, Rat Man.


Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.

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