MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By 20th Century Fox
Directed by Wes Ball. Starring Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter.
Ah, another month, another teen dystopia. Kids, ask your folks about a time when America envisioned a future in which our homes would be cleaned by a robot slave and we would fly in our personal jet planes to the local sprocket factory where we would enjoy a life of luxury and ease, providing for our children while our wives just stayed at home and went out shopping. Yes, it was a sexist future, but this was the world of The Jetsons, an animated TV show from 1963 that lasted for only one short season (24 episodes) before being cancelled by ABC. Ironically, there was no future for The Jetsons.
Now it seems that the most popular YA books depict a coming age in which adults have really messed things up and it is up to the teenagers to rebel and make things right. (The Hunger Games trilogy is exceptional in including grownups as allies and villains.) It might be wishful thinking on my part, but I challenge the youth who champion these stories to follow through and get involved in local politics. The world could use your righteous indignation.
The Maze Runner is based on the first of a series of books by James Dashner, brought to the big screen with style by first-time director Wes Ball. The film begins with a dark screen and the sound of machinery. We soon discover that we are in an elevator that is taking a boy (O’Brien) and supplies up in a cage to The Glade, a society composed entirely of male youth who share a curiosity about the circumstances that brought them together to this place. Has our world been invaded by aliens? Are we even on planet Earth? And what’s behind that big wall over there?
The Glade has the usual assortment of character: The leader (Aml Ameen) who was the first to arrive and leads the group; his energetic sidekick (Thomas Sangster); the bully (Poulter); and the head runner (Ki Hong Lee) who is in charge of investigating and mapping the world of the wall and the maze that opens up for a time every day.
The boy in the elevator soon remembers that his name is Thomas and he turns out to be quite a good runner, as well. The Maze Runner is a fast-moving adventure film that reveals the secrets of this world through a series of explorations and the social interplay between the boys (and another new member of the society, who arrives after Thomas).
Like The Hunger Games, everything that happens here is a setup for the next movie in the franchise. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the big reveal at the end made me that interested in the sequel. The more you know about The Glade, the more ludicrous it becomes.
The film does have good actors and a script that gives its stock characters some depth as well as moral development. Like so many films these days, God does not enter into the picture. But the film clearly shows that cooperation and personal sacrifice are necessary for a better world. Oh, so close to Jesus.
If you thought Lord of the Flies was too deep and The Giver was too philosophical and The Hunger Games and Divergent too hard to follow, have I got a movie for you!
Two halos: An entertaining and well-made film for young teens that are easily entertained.
Two pitchforks: Occasional swearing; a society that would treat human beings as lab rats; some scary scenes that are not for little kids.
While there was not mention of "God" or "Jesus" in the movie it did seem to be ripe for use in preaching. There were several points I thought were "rooted" in biblical imagery. While I don't have an appointment it has been used with my grand kids as a jumping off point to raise up lots of good discussion about the Bible and present day life issues.
Enjoy reading your reviews.
Charles "Chuck" Graham
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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