As you may or may not be aware, my New Year’s Resolution this year was to only go to see movies I thought I’d have a really good time at this year (this is why I have seen Vampire Academy, I, Frankenstein, the Purge sequel, and both Hercules movies in 3D but not Gone Girl). It has been the best decision I have ever made with my life, and it is directly responsible for my having seen The Maze Runner last Friday afternoon in a nearly empty theater.
For a while, after I saw this movie, whenever someone asked me what I thought of it, I told them “it was amazing,” in a way that made it clear I was saying it with the word maze in the middle, but my heart wasn’t really in the pun. I liked The Maze Runner a great deal more than I anticipated, but I could not bring myself to love it. It was still the greatest movie I have ever seen (every movie is the greatest movie I have ever seen until I see the next one).
I had not heard of The Maze Runner until I saw a poster for it; the picture was of a lone figure standing in front of a massive labyrinth, and that was when I realized I love movies about mazes. I had not known this previously, but now I must add “mazes” to the list of “things movies are about that mean I will see them without question” (the list also includes “caves,” “something going wrong in space,” and “Manhattan has been turned into a prison”).
I have never seen the movie Labyrinth. This is, to the best of my knowledge, the only movie I have ever seen about a giant maze. It looked like exactly what a giant, deadly maze should look like: a cross between the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time and a deserted industrial warehouse from an early Janet Jackson video. If it wasn’t covered in vines, it was rusted over; if it wasn’t a giant, ornately carved door, it was a hallway of knives. I have no complaints about the maze qua maze.
I brought a notebook with me, and I made a check mark every time someone said the word “maze” in the movie, and I was a little let down by the final score, which was a very restrained 22. This movie was better than I wanted it to be. That’s not a complaint. Or it is, but it shouldn’t be. (It does, however, fall prey to the Worldbuilding 101 Shortcut prevalent in so many second-rate sci-fi movies, wherein half of the film’s dialogue is given over to unnecessarily capitalized words for things. “What are those?” “They’re Grievers. When they cut you, then the Changing happens.” Normal people would just say “Oh, those are the horrible monsters that live in the maze and sometimes kill us.”)
There is — rightly or wrongly — a secondary antagonist in this movie who looks like Buzz from Home Alone. They have the same pit bull eyebrows. I don’t mean to pick at someone’s appearance, but it seems wrong not to acknowledge it. The young man looks like Buzz, and the sooner we square our shoulders and face up to reality, the better off we shall all be.
There is also a wonderful nod to MALE OBJECTIFICATION, in that most of the strapping young twentysomethings trying to pass themselves off as Filthy Teens are trussed into completely unnecessary leather harnesses, the kind that a certain (wonderful) type of gay man wears in lieu of a shirt to hold on his Dark Angel wings at Halloween:
They’re not FOR anything, as far as I can tell (nor are the all-leather fingerless gauntlets at least two of them sport throughout the movie), aside from drawing attention to the male physique, so this would be a good movie for you if your sexuality involves liking “strapping youths festooned in unnecessary leather straps over dirty J.Crew outfits.”
If your sexuality is more along the “Kristen Stewart lines” (OR BOTH), you might enjoy the Lone Female of this movie, who is…well, she isn’t Kristen Stewart, I know that much, but beyond that there aren’t many positive claims I feel comfortable making about her. It may yet be revealed in the fullness of time that she is Kristen Stewart in some way we have not yet been given to understand.
“Okay, I guess I kind of see it, but maybe it’s just that they both have brown hair–”
Shut up and look at this:
There is nothing in the world so attractive to me as a sullen bitch, and this movie more than delivers on this front.
But I said there was a problem with this movie, and we can only distract ourselves with pictures of frowning, consumptive-looking brunettes for so long. The problem with The Maze Runner is that people don’t act like people in it.
The basic premise, as you may or may not know, is that a group of young men (generally between 15-25, with the exception of one adorable little round-faced dude who is Marked For Death and probably 11) are locked in a glade together and surrounded by a Death Maze for a little longer than three years. Every month or so, a new boy is flung up into the glade via cage elevator and they welcome him into their (surprisingly advanced!) society.
Here is a list of things the boys have created during their three years in a forest without adult supervision or social taboos:
- a map room
- Swiss Family Robinson-style treehouses
- an amphitheater
- a vineyeard
- a distillery
- a drum circle (!!)
- a Fight Club
And yet there is no sign of the underground sex trade that would have almost certainly sprung up by the time of the third dude’s arrival. You’re telling me that a society run by desperate, unsupervised teen males wouldn’t have, at the very least, a jerkoff hut? That no femme-y, enterprising young twink decided he’d get out of latrine duty by growing his hair long, staining his cheeks with some berry juice, and trading sex for chores and also possibly puka-shell necklaces? STUFF AND NONSENSE.
This puts me in the awkward position of insisting a movie about teen death to have more of a focus on the underground male sex economy, which is not to say I needed a scene of a bunch of unwashed teens Doing It instead of flinging themselves down Murder Corridors; I merely point out that if you lock a bunch of dudes in their late teens in a forest and come back three years later, the prettiest one will have his own special treehouse castle and never lift a finger.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.