Drop a bunch of teens in an arena and see who survives. Sounds familiar? Yeah well, in a sort. The movie was labelled as an `improved Hunger Games`, and there is a new genre expanding at the moment due to the adventures of Katniss and Peeta, but basically, this is a whole other slice of bread.
They do have in common that they are based on a series of novels set in a not to distant future, so there is some high tech involved, but nothing so unrealisticly far away that we couldn`t develop it ourselves in say 50 years time.
Now, I haven`t read any of the books of this series, so no `book is better...` comments will be following, but let`s start with having a look at the movie itself.
It all starts with a guy puking in a sort of cargo elevator, which stops in an open grassland and surrounded by a bunch og guys in their later teenage years for the most. The Glade is surrounded by large walls, and he is locked away to climatize to the surroundings at first. He finds himself in a community that is self sustaining, but nobody knows who put them there, or why this is done. The walls themselves contain a huge gate that is the entrance to The Maze, a place no-one bar the Runners are allowed to enter, and which clearly hides something.
The Maze changes layout every night, and the guys are trying to completely map it in order to find a way out of this place. But when you get stuck inside during the night, when the gates close, creatures called The Grievers come out. And nobody so far has survived a night in the Maze. When new guy, Thomas, is assaulted by one the runners called Ben for no apparent reason, Ben claims Thomas is the reason this happens, that he has seen him before and that it is all his fault. It turns out Ben has been stung by some Grievers poison causing an infection called The Changing. He is put in the Maze as the doors close, but Thomas vaguely remembers things from before his arrival.
When the next day the most experienced runner and the longest present member of the group don`t seem to make it out of the Maze, Thomas runs in but in doing so only gets himself caught inside the Maze with the other two for the night. Using the ivy, he hauls the wounded Alby to safety while he and Ming-Ho try and survive a Griever attack. Thomas sees the beasts are spider like hybrid of machine and beast, and manages to get it squashed between a changing wall. They survive the night and his name and fame rises, as he is made a runner in the group.
A new arrival is send up, far sooner then expected as it is normally at a once every month ratio, and she carries a note stating `She will be the last one ever`. Indeed she, as she is also the first girl ever to be send up. She also seems to know Thomas, and while he and a group go back to dissect the squashed Griever, and as they extract a mechanical component from the beast, they discover that whoever is sending them their supplies, also made these monstrosities. Ming-Ho calls Thomas to his mapping room, and shows him the layout of the whole Maze. They know every inch of it, they know there is no way out, and he doesn`t share this to prevent chaos. And there is something odd about `section 7`. The Maze apparently changes on a daily basis, with a set sequence, and they decide to investigate around section 7 which now is closed for another week according to their experience.
Therese wakes up and carries two strange vials with her. They inject Alby with one, and the disease is cured, but also making him remember other things from before being put in the Glade. Ming-Ho and Thomas enter the Maze, and discover Section 7 is open... The component they salvaged acts as a sort of guiding beacon, leading to a section never discovered and where the Grievers are apparently housed. This sets of an alarm and the Maze starts to change already, forcing them outside again.
That evening, as Alby is doing his tale, an uproar ensues. The doors of the Maze aren`t closing, and instead three more gateways open and unleash the Grievers into the Glade, where they massacre a whole lot of it`s residents. Thomas injects himself with the Griever poison and then the antidote to learn as much as he can of before entering the Glade, and the truth is horrible. He sees people being prepared in cryo tanks (and Ben, who was awake in his tank and hence knew him from before) and he and Theresa are scientists working on this Maze project. Thomas and most of the survivors decide to run the Maze, open section 7 and hopefully get out of the Maze that way the next morning and uncover what is behind all this.
They get there, but being attacked by Grievers, some more of their numbers are lost. Theu manage to open the doors thanks to the sequence of the Maze changing, and find themselves in a maintenance tunnel with a door ironically equipped with one of those light up `Exit` signs. This leads to a lab, filled with dead scientist and apparently attacked. A recording starts playing, showing the lead doctor on the project explaining that Earth had been scorched by the sun and a disease with high fatality had broken out. However, some young people appeared to be better resistant, and the Maze was develloped to push their mental capabilities to the maximum, in order to find a cure for this brain orientated virus.
A group of armed men comes in and ferries them away, while the doctor, who was seen killing herself on the video, wipes off make up blood and starts speaking to an assembly. She tells them the project was a success, but that the real work now starts as we see the survivors flying off in a chopper towards a city fully covered in desert landscape...
This is a purely entertaining movie. Not the very best out there, it is never the less an excellent flick to just sit back and relax, and take a hike for 1h45.
But there are some things I`d like to point out, the first something us Trekkies call the `Voyager Syndrome`.
Alby was the first to be send up, about 3 years ago. Every month, he was joined by one other, so taking into account that nobody would have died so far (which, quite a few already have), that would mean the Glade would be populated by around 36 people at most. Believe me, a lot more are seen and slaughtered during the Griever attack... and still leave more than a dozen survivors.
The second one is when the Grievers attack and they hide in the wooden, ramshackle main building they erected. Those Grievers are seen piercing stone and iron walls in the Maze to climb upwards, yet a simple wooden door with rope connections is to strong for them to penetrate...
But those are mistakes that don`t take away to much from the movie, and half the viewing community (think 16 year old girly gigglers) wouldn`t have noticed it probably anyways...
Showcase: Kristina Erickson by RAFM
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