About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Maze Runner

It isn't often that I get to see a movie based on a huge bestselling novel that I had the good taste to turn down, but I got to do it tonight, when I headed off to the Ziegfeld after work for the 7:15 of The Maze Runner, based on James Dashner's novel of the same name.

Which is worth your time.

Spoilers follow:

I think I might've liked the movie less if I'd read the book.  One of the things I enjoyed about the movie was that it held surprises.  I was able to make some educated guesses about what would happen in certain instances based on my experiences as a reader of fiction and a viewer of films.  When a group of 15 people heads off somewhere, and half of two-thirds of them are characters who haven't had a line of dialogue, it is safe to say that a good number of those characters aren't going to be around for the end of the movie.  Cannon fodder, they've got cannon fodder.  And if the arch nemesis is left behind someplace, the suspense is in wondering whether the arch nemesis will return in the sequel or before the end of the film at hand.  Also, when characters walk in front of something that looks like the door to a loading dock, it might be a door.

But if I had a general idea of what was going to happen at points throughout, the movie held my attention, interest and curiosity.  I was never entirely sure what was behind the door, or who might be coming up on the elevator, or the exact point in time when the climax was going to be set in motion.

Casting was a definite plus.  Not a single complaint about any of the kids in the Glade, and their roles weren't all easy ones to play.  As an example, the role of the Doubting Thomas (and this movie does have not just a Thomas but a Doubting Thomas) is kind of cliche and very functional and full of pronouncement, but all those lines are delivered with fervor and self-belief by Will Poulter, in a very different role than his equally excellent performance as the son in We're The Millers.  And Dylan O'Brien as Thomas makes his character's actions seem perfectly natural even when, really, they're not, when it takes a lot of gumption or a job with McKinsey to arrive in a situation and start shaking things up like you've been doing it all along.

Well, maybe one false note in the cast.  Blake Cooper has the task of playing the analog to Piggy in Lord of the Flies, and he doesn't manage to surmount that burden.

One false note in the physical production, which is generally impressive, and which false note occurred to me in real time as I was watching, and not with thought afterward.  There isn't some giant dome over the Glade, like there is in the arena in Catching Fire.  Yet the weather in the Glade seems entirely and completely different than the weather beyond the Glade and its immediate environs.  I don't think it can work that way.

But on the whole, it's a movie that kept me interested all the way through, that didn't have me looking at my watch, that kept me awake and alert.

And as the Washington Post critic said, if I could've stayed around to see the sequel right afterwards, I would have.  It's a great ending.  A couple other reviews made it seem like this movie was a giant set-up for the next one.  And it is.  But it's also a quite entertaining movie in its own right.

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