The Maze Runner: From page to screen
I usually stay ahead of fads. I mean, I read Twilight and The Hunger Games before they were cool. And I was a fan of The Giver long before the movie revived interest in Jonas’ story.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but I jumped on the bandwagon with The Maze Runner. Somehow James Dashner’s book slipped through my radar and I only heard about it when the movie came out in theaters. But I did follow the age-old rule and finished the book before seeing the movie.
To be honest, I thought it was going to be another Hunger Games. A futuristic, dystopian world where some young, untrained children are thrust into battle, fixing what the adults destroyed.
But I was wrong. Kind of. Dashner created an amazing story, a world so vast there’s still so much I want answers about. Our protagonist, Thomas, wakes up in a metal crate in the middle of a place called “The Glade.” The only thing he remembers is his name.
He wakes up, surrounded by the “Gladers,” think Lord of the Flies, 22nd Century-style. And they are trapped…in the middle of a large maze. Each night at sundown, towering metal doors slide shut as the maze rearranges itself. Anyone left in the maze overnight answers to the Grievers.
But what are Grievers, you ask? As Dashner describes them, they look like:
an experiment gone terribly wrong – something from a nightmare. Part animal, part machine, the Griever rolled an clicked along the stone pathway. Its body resembled a gigantic slug, sparsely covered in hair and glistening with slime, grotesquely pulsating in and out as it breathed. It had no distinguishable head or tail, but front to end it was at least six feet long, four feet thick.
So, based off that description, I pictured something like this:
Okay, maybe something a little fiercer. But still slug-like.
Grievers got the whole Hollywood makeover for the movie. They gave the Grievers spider-like legs and a terrifying teeth-lined mouth. Slugs, I could handle. But not the spiders:
I’ll just stand over here in this corner. As far away from these….things….as possible.
After Thomas arrives, things change. And when a girl named Teresa arrives, things spiral out of control.
So, yes, this shares some similarities to The Hunger Games. But what I liked about Dashner’s story were The Flares. It wasn’t war or something manmade that threw the world into disarray. It was something out of our control. And that’s scary.
There were a number of changes from the book to the movie. The book is told from Thomas’ point of view. This means that we only know what Thomas knows. Which is not much. I like this because we discover the truth about the maze as Thomas learns more.
But that doesn’t translate well to a movie. You can’t keep the audience completely in the dark. Instead, the world unravels through the third-person lens as we get flashbacks from before the Flare, and Thomas’ relationship with Teresa. They also changed the ending of the movie, from WICKED’s point of view instead of Thomas’. I almost liked the theatrical ending better than the book ending.
If you’re still on the fence about seeing the movie, I have just two final words for you: Dylan O’Brien. Have you ever seen Teen Wolf? Stiles? The trusty sidekick? I do love me some Dylan O’Brien. Just look at that face. And now Dylan steps into the role of leading man.
I usually like the book better than the movie. (Typical English major. Believe me, I know.) But I think The Maze Runner translated well from the book to the big screen. Sometimes, action on a page isn’t easily visualized. Movies provide the opportunity for lengthened and suspenseful scenes, truly bringing the book to life. I still recommend reading Dashner’s Maze Runner series, but also take the time to watch the movie.
But please, steer clear of the Grievers.