Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in a strange, all-male, outdoor compound. The natural beauty of the lush green surroundings, called The Glade, is offset by the massive concrete walls that serve as a containment border. The guys don’t know why they’re there, only that they’re basically trapped. On the other side of the towering walls lies an imposed maze that changes daily. The most athletic and cunning of the boys are selected to find an escape route, but that never seems to happen. The initially underestimated Thomas seeks to change things up.
Director Wes Ball does an effective job of plunging up right into the action. There’s a sustained air of intrigue that holds audience interest. To give away what’s lurking within the maze is a bit of a spoiler, considering it was strongly deemphasized in the film’s marketing campaign. Suffice it to say there are surprisingly intense horror movie elements supercharging the boys’ attempts to navigate the maze. Alas, character development is sorely lacking, with Thomas, sole female Glade inhabitant Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), tough guy Gally (Will Poulter, miles away from We’re the Millers), and Chuck (Blake Cooper) all struggling to expand their roles beyond one trait.
As a Digital HD experience, The Maze Runner is pretty well tricked out with director commentary, deleted scenes (with optional commentary), director Wes Ball’s short film Ruin (that directly led to him securing the Maze gig), a gag reel, and a 30-minute visual effects reel (also with optional commentary). An impressive series of featurettes (totally 42 minutes) takes us inside The Maze Runner, which is especially interesting when dealing with the adaptation of the source novel. Anyone who wants The Maze Runner immediately might want to take advantage of the ease of the Digital HD format.