Spoiler Free Version
The movie is much better than the book and I loved the book. It did a great job of moving through the plot quickly and answering questions at a good pace. There were a couple funny moments that weren’t in the book that I really enjoyed in the movie – especially the scene with Teresa. I thought the Grievers were much scarier in the movie than they seemed in the book. It was like a cross of aliens and a big metal spider. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. There isn’t a lot of music so I felt like something was going to jump out at any minute. The visuals of the moving maze were just stunning and so cool to watch.
In short, you should go see it.
The “Jessica Thinks Too Much” Version
The movie did a great job of bringing out the theme of insanity that was so prevalent in the book. I think it was even easier to see in the movie. Which is more insane: to keep trying to solve a maze that you haven’t been able to solve for years OR to just give up? It’s such an interesting question. Sitting here typing this review I would say that of course I would keep trying to get out. But I felt like by the time Thomas showed up in the maze that the Gladers kind of had given up. They still ran the maze looking for a way out but when Thomas was asking Newt if they had tried this or that Newt impatiently told him that they had tried everything. Thomas was curious and questioning things while everyone else had stopped and just focused on getting through the day and following the rules. One of the themes about insanity that was missing from the movie was the voices in Thomas’ head that he later found out was a telepathic connection with Teresa. I could just see the scientists looking at Thomas’ brain and studying what happens when he hears voices in his head and thinking “What is insanity? WHERE IS IT?”
The scientists at the end were so interesting. You could tell they were desperate about the disease that slowly makes you insane. They took people that were immune and wanted to study their brains to find out “Why aren’t you insane? What’s different about you?” The maze felt like a play on the idea of the traditional science experiment of a mouse looking for cheese. The idea of experimenting on humans isn’t a new one. I thought it was interesting that the scientists seem to justify what they are doing because it’s an extreme case – they are trying to save the whole human race. So is WCKD good or not? Does the end justify the means? Is it okay to stick these kids in a maze with machines designed to kill them if it could save everyone? I don’t know that it is. I do wonder that if I was slowly going to go insane without a cure if I would go to the extremes that WCKD did.
When Gally and Thomas come to an ultimatum I wondered what “team” I would choose. Gally’s team stays behind because they don’t think life is that bad or that it needs to change. They also don’t seem convinced that life is necessarily better on the outside. They are fine with the status quo. Thomas’ team is curious and sees the maze as a trap and a loss of freedom but it takes a huge amount of risk to try and get out. I’d like to think I would choose Thomas’s team, but in real life I make more decisions similar to Gally. It also made me wonder what I would do if I knew I was being experimented on. What would you do if you were experimented on?
One of the biggest things I missed from the book that didn’t show up as much in the movie was the lingo. The lingo makes them feel like an isolated community but had the feel of how teenage boys would talk to each other. The lingo was still there, just not as much as it was in the book.
Since I’m LDS (which is short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints aka Mormons) I noticed a few things that maybe only a Mormon person would. I’m not saying this is a religious book in any way or that it is an allegory. But terms like “greenie” which is used to describe a new missionary and the idea of being surrounded only by boys for two years kind of remind me of an LDS mission. I also thought it was interesting that Thomas wakes up with no memory of his previous life and goes through the difficult process of figuring out the maze. That idea is kind of similar to the Mormon doctrine called the plan of salvation which is the belief that we lived before we were born on Earth and we are here to be tested before we return to heaven. That’s the very short version and you can read more about the plan of salavation here.
James Dashner talked about how The Maze Runner was inspired by Ender’s Game and Lord of the Flies. James Dashner talked about how he felt like the Gladers were the opposite from the chaos in Lord of the Flies with their focus on order and how they treated Teresa.
Overall, this was a great, action-packed movie that gave me so much to think about and I can’t wait to see it again.