I made a point of reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner before I would even consider going to the cinema; I’m fussy like that. In the end, because I enjoyed the first book so much, I completely inhaled the trilogy in a matter of days and had to take some time to sit and recover. This series has definitely taken the top spot in my list of unexpectedly incredible trilogies of the year, without a doubt! Needless to say, after falling in love with the books, I was a little nervous over how the film would compare.
At first I noticed that a number of the smaller details had changed, which didn’t really phase me in any way. In the film, the Gladers were deposited in the maze one at a time from the beginning, rather than one large group at the start and one a month since. To account for this, they have been roaming the glade for a year longer than in the trilogy. A few other minor details were different, but nothing really to get excited about.
It wasn’t until further into the film that I realised the whole escape from the maze had changed. I don’t want to reveal too many specific details about the major changes, but the general sense of the escape is the same with a huge battle against the grievers and jumping through the griever hole, however almost every other aspect is different. I think the most likely reason for the change in the escape is that with the all the maps and codes in the novel, it’s just far too detailed to convey properly within a film. This really didn’t bother me too much though as I enjoyed the film as a completely separate entity to the book, and felt like I was just re-experiencing the story in a new way. The Maze Runner as a film doesn’t use the novel as a crutch; it has its own life and these changes work because of this.
While I definitely prefer the novel’s method because it feels as though the Gladers were supposed to work it out rather than stumble across the solution, the film doesn’t do a bad job with its alternative and it was still exciting, dangerous and fun to watch.
The whole film was visually stunning and filmed in that same gritty, up-close way that I love about The Hunger Games. It really represented the maze and the glade beautifully. I sometimes struggled while reading to picture the sheer scale of the glade but the film captured it in a way that just felt right. The special effects were brilliant too, I couldn’t tell that the grievers weren’t real creatures about to kill us all. Seriously, those things are the stuff of nightmares.
I thought that every single actor was fantastic. From Thomas to Gally to Chuck, each one was a perfect representation of the characters I imagined in the books. I especially loved how Chuck was cast to look slightly younger than the other boys to evoke that feeling of brotherly responsibility in Thomas. He was sweet and kind and portrayed that annoying but devoted little brother excellently. I was pleased that the Gladers in the film were kinder to him than they were in the book too, he deserved it!
Gally surprised me too. He made sense and seemed almost reasonable compared to his constantly angry persona in the books. Even though he was still clearly against Thomas and had suspicions over his arrival, this slight personality shift made him more believable and complex as a character. Alby was played with a kinder heart and he explained much of the maze to Thomas, unlike in the book where he was harsh and secretive. I liked these little changes as the characters were still the same people but slightly more rounded and real versions of them.
One thing that confused me, however, was the way Teresa took a huge backseat in the film compared to her role in the books. She doesn’t bring with her the exact same message, instead shouting Thomas’ name and falling back to sleep. She doesn’t seem to have a huge impact on anything in the film and only seems to be a bit of a novelty, with no real memories of why she’s there. I’m hoping that she’ll regain her importance in the later films as I really love her complicated and devastating story arc throughout the trilogy. Most disappointingly, the telepathic link between Thomas and Teresa has been completely axed in the film. I’m assuming this was a choice made for suspension of disbelief purposes, but it worked really well in the books for me and I’m sad it’s not there to strengthen their relationship and connection in the film.
Finally, I was a little disappointed that the characters didn’t make much use of the Glader slang. There were only a handful of shanks and klunks and I really wished I’d heard more of them in the film, as it made the Gladers unique and bonded them together as a community. There was a lot of actual real-life swearing for a 12A though, which surprised me.
I adore the books for their complexity and fine details but love how the film stands out as brilliant too. I enjoyed every aspect of the film and was surprised at how successfully it has been adapted. I’m hoping that future book to film developments can take a leaf from The Maze Runner’s book; no narration, exciting story, believable characters and gorgeous scenery all in one exhilarating package! I really can’t wait for The Scorch Trials!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments!