‘The Prisoner meets The Last Starfighter with giant spiders’

The post-Hunger Games teen dystopia genre continues to flourish with this solidly serviceable adaptation of James Dashner’s 2009 bestseller – the first in an inevitable trilogy (now with added prequels). Misleadingly pitched as Lord of the Flies meets Lost (it’s actually more like The Prisoner meets The Last Starfighter – with giant spiders) this finds 16-year-old Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) waking up in the mysterious Glade where similarly amnesiac young residents live in fear of the Grievers – monsters who maraud the only exit route, a huge killer labyrinth. The arrival of feisty lone girl Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) bearing a note that reads “She will be the last” convinces some of the group that it’s time to take their chances in the maze, despite the protestations of stroppy Gally (Will Poulter), who treats the new arrivals with hostile suspicion. Overall this is efficiently handled YA thriller fare, lacking the interpersonal/political depths of The Hunger Games perhaps (at least in its first instalment) and sharing the clunkiness of Divergent’s dialogue (way too much cod-futuristic naming), but generally redeemed by feature first-timer Wes Ball’s forthright action sequences. It’s worth noting that fairly extensive cuts, sound-edits and reframings were required to earn a 12A certificate from the BBFC, which initially deemed The Maze Runner to be to “tonally” more within the realms of the 15 rating, due to sustained threat and crunchy fight sequences. The cast certainly give it some welly, with top marks going to the versatile Poulter, who makes the most of an unsympathetic role (“the closest thing the film has to a villain”(“the closest thing the film has to a villain”, as he told the Observer last week) to which he brings depth, intrigue and interest.