cinematics vs. prose: A critique of the book and movie versions of The Maze Runner

James Dashner’s The Maze Runneris now more than a novel: it’s become a blockbuster movie.

As the story begins, a 17-year-old boy (played by Dylan O’Brian) wakes up in an elevator, able to recall only his name: Thomas.

Greeted by an assortment of fellow teenage boys, Thomas finds himself in a field called the Glade. For a couple of years, the boys tell Thomas, they have been trying to find a way out; the only way to do so is through the surrounding maze.

When the first and only girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), makes her appearance, they realize their chance to get out is now or never.

One common criticism of movie adaptations is that the book is always better.

This tendancy can’t always be chalked up to bad CGI or a director who doesn’t fully capture the story.

Sometimes it’s just because it’s nearly impossible to squeeze an entire book—characters, themes and all—into a two-hour film. But all this considered, director Wes Ball doesn’t do too shabby of a job—strictly cinematically, of course.

As a stand-alone movie, the story constantly keeps the viewers engaged. It addresses the same key questions as the book: What is in the maze? Why are the protagonists there? How do they get out?

All of these questions reflect what The Maze Runner, book or movie, intends to do—leave the audience puzzled.

The cast was likeable in their respective characters; any failure in the franchise can’t be blamed on them.

Be that as it may, though, the film’s plotline itself left many book lovers irritated and disappointed.

Plot adjustments are understandable, since the movie does need a sense of originality, but the modifications drifted past nuances to make the movie and the book two completely different affairs.

Even disregarding plot variances, fans may notice some of the characters have been changed for the big screen.

For example, Alby (Aml Ameen) was more of a mentor than a leader, Minho (Ki-Hong Lee) was braver and Thomas was more defiant.

With all these alterations, the book and the movie begin to look almost too different to make a viable comparison.

Having said that, the key point to realize when comparing these two media is this: the novel The Maze Runner is a narrative heavily dependent on the character’s frame of mind.

Thomas and Teresa are supposed to be telepathic, which is a detail that is difficult to integrate into any motion picture successfully.

Dashner also relies on character emotions and decisions to move the story along, something that is attempted through the actors’ talents but will never be fully grasped since you can’t read someone’s mind in a movie like you can in a novel.

Maybe The Maze Runner is a novel that should have stayed out of the clutches of the movie franchises—not because movies never live up to the their books, but because it’s not a feasible story to adapt to a cinematic format..