Will James Dashner’s 2009 best-selling novel “The Maze Runner” work on the big screen?
The first book in the young adult science fiction trilogy, the book tells the story of Thomas (played in the movie by Dylan O’Brien) who suddenly wakes up trapped in a massive maze called the Glade with a group of boys. He has no memory of the outside world.
The movie is directed by Wes Ball with screenplay by Noah Oppenheim.
Thomas and his fellow “Gladers” (Will Poulter, Aml Ameen, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee and Blake Cooper) have no idea how they got inside the Glade. The only thing they know is that each morning, the giant concrete doors leading to the Maze open and close at sunset. Every thirty days, a new boy arrives in the lift.
Suddenly, less than a week since Thomas’s arrival, the lift returns carrying Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the first girl to arrive in the Glade.
Soon, Thomas discovers that he has to piece together fragments of his memory in order for him to unlock the mysteries of the maze.
Ball said he was drawn to the character of Thomas.
“Thomas is someone who takes that step forward into the unknown when everyone else takes a step back,” Ball said. “It’s this idea that you have to be brave enough to face the unknown if you want to find yourself. Thomas is curious, and some in the Glade perceive that as a threat, but it may be the thing that gets him out of there.”
‘Lord of the Flies’
“The Maze Runner,” which, together with “The Scorch Trials” and “The Death Cure” constitutes a trilogy, has been described by readers as a combination of “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “The Hunger Games,” and the popular TV show “Lost.”
Although there is a semblance to “Lord of the Flies,” Dashner said that his novel has an altogether different story.
“I don’t think characters would react the way they do in Lord of the Flies,” he said. “I think they’d be more civilized, orderly and determined to survive and escape. ‘The Maze Runner’ is an adventure story that’s also about hope and the potential of the human spirit.”
Modern and ancient
From its 100-ft-high Maze walls overgrown with vines, to the handcrafted look of the Gladers’ camp compound, the film’s production design brought “The Maze Runner” to life.
The Glade and the Maze were created in practical locations enhanced by visual effects. As envisioned by Ball and production designer Marc Fisichella, the Maze’s massive walls are both modern and ancient.
The towering structure’s creeping vines and seemingly empty corridors mask a threat that terrifies even the most hardened and veteran Gladers.
“We built the Maze walls 16 ft tall because we were limited as to the height we could build on our stage and allow enough room for lighting up above. Visual effects extended them to 100 ft,” Fisichella said. “The doors… were mechanical, so they actually opened and closed on cue and we could have the actors running through them, which makes the film more dynamic than shooting it on blue screen.”
“The Maze Runner” opens on Sept. 17 in cinemas nationwide.