Sunday, 28 September 2014

Can Be Better: The Maze Runner Movie

Ok, seen the movie, read the books. Here are some thoughts:

The movie is different from the book. There are major omissions, as such, I feel the movie has weakened the whole original tale. This can be disastrous for the continuous telling of the tale in subsequent sequels.

For those who do not know, the story of the Maze Runner and the WICKED experiment does not conclude in just one book. It runs through the first three books and the fourth, which is a prequel. 

So how different was the movie from the book? (Spoilers alert.)

1) The Changing. In the movie, the character Gally did not go through the process, which is strange. In the book, it is precisely because Gally had gone through it that makes him so unwelcoming of newbie Tom to the group. Remnant images in his head tell him there is more to Tom than meets the eye. Without going through the Changing, Gally's hostile reaction to Tom seemed petty and impetuous. Gally does play a big part in the saga's ending in Book 3. By taking away his Changing experience, the movie makes his insistence to stay in the Glade appear more out of fear than what he remembers during his painful flashbacks.

2) Order. In the book, order in the Glade was paramount. This did not come across well in the movie. The leaders of the maze did not appear as anal about the issue as in the book. Why is this important? Well, it is one of the charms of The Maze Runner story - adolescent boys knowing how to behave with sense, that any society needs rules and regulations to function well. Because of these strict rules, no person was supposed to step out of the Glade, not even to rescue an injured mate lying within easy distance.

So in the movie, it became all very laughable when suddenly, the boys decide not to enter the Maze to help the two stricken boys (Minho and Alby) who had fallen within sight. Up till that point, the movie had shown the boys to be a cooperative bunch - so their natural instinct would be to run in to help, not hold back.

3) Change. The change brought on by the arrival of Tom and Teresa was not played out well, especially the fact that they could communicate telepathically way much earlier. The director could have used that time-tested method of "sound-off" - i.e. using dialogue between the lead actor and a minor character (or in a conflict situation) to make plain facts that were in the original story (like how Tom and Teresa could communicate telepathically). Basically, the movie did not show how Tom and Teresa might have had a past.

4) The Grievers. The boys DID know beforehand what a Griever monster looked like. In the book, there was a thick glass window in one of the walls through which anyone could get a glimpse of a Griever that happened to be there. And a Griever's electronic part did not help open up the Maze; it was Tom's fortuitous discovery of a "space hole" when battling a Griever near a cliff that did it. And in the movie, the role of the Bladders (aka spy cams) was not highlighted at all (or wasn't made obvious). These creatures give hint that the whole Maze thing could have been an experiment.

5) One a night. In the book, the Grievers did go into the Glade towards the end of the tale to take or kill a boy one a night. This was carried out, basically, to encourage the boys to leave the glade. Not so as played out in the movie. It was more of a sudden attack and the boys had no choice but run into the Maze.

6) How Tom killed the Griever. It was never shown in the movie but implied. Did the director not think it possible for the boy to kill one? Ok, the book, was rather mysterious in this (well, who asked the author to make the creatures seem so powerful and impossible to overcome with their speed and many 'tentacles'. (The book story did cheat in other ways time-wise).

7) Ending. How the kids got out of the Maze in the end is different between book and movie. Very disappointing. I don't quite see how not following the book would hurt the movie. Everything needed in the movie had been fleshed out well in the book. So why not just follow it? And it wasn't that complicated! Don't these folks know telling stuff right in the first movie can help with the telling of the second.

8) Weather. Now, this is the weakest point of the movie. The whole Maze WAS supposed to be a controlled experiment existing in an artificial environment. Yet it is shown in the movie to be opened to the skies. It is a big fault. Why?

1) This makes the start-of-the-end-of-the-Glade scenario different from the book. 2) The environment outside of the Maze was supposed to be this super desert-hot place that nothing could grow, so putting the Glade in such a shared environment means farming or gardening would have been impossible! 3) In the book, the sky covering the Glade became gray in the end, triggering the end-of-Glade scenario and giving everybody their "uh-oh" and WTF moments.

9) Tom and Teresa. The relationship between this two could have been developed in the movie. These two were implied much in the book to be prodigious disciples/workers of the WICKED experiment (a fact which Gally kind-of remember and hate them for). So, the movie could have injected more depth between these two but did not.

A few of these points I've highlighted after gaining further insights from reading Book 3: The Death Cure. Certain Glade characters are important, even in flashbacks.

But really, the Maze Runner movie could have been a better film if it had stuck to the key emotional and factual points of the book, which are 1) Boys stuck in a maze, order paramount; 2) The ill-effects of the Changing (leading to a disturbed psyche and extreme personality changes); 3) Why Tom (and Teresa) is key; 4) The Maze, what it was and what it could perceptibly do.

In end, I think the director should have just stuck to the books. Maybe this is why there doesn't seem to be much interest in the sequels. The first movie was just too crappy and did not set the links right.

The end.

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