I have a love/hate relationship with movies that are based on books. Sometimes the movies are well put together and follow the plot lines and character development of the book almost perfectly. Other times, I can tell just by the preview that the movie has completely gone off the rails and does not follow the book. Depending on how attached I am to the book, I might be able to let go of the differences in the movie, but if I feel any deep connections to the book, I pity the people next to me in the theater because I will point out how the two differ. Thankfully, I have found a few book-based movies that have changes that enhance the book or even make more logical sense than the world created in the book.
With the recent upswing in popularity of post-apocalyptic dystopian literature, especially those marketed towards young adults, movie producers have seemingly been turning to these novels as fool-proof ways to draw people into the theaters. (Case in point: The Hunger Games movies based on books by Suzanne Collins, as well as the Divergent movies based on books by Veronica Roth.) A similar post-apocalyptic dystopian book/movie pair just made it to the top of my to-be-read/to-be-watched list and I must say that I actually enjoyed the two.
This pairing is the book, The Maze Runner written by James Dashner published in 2009, as compared to the movie The Maze Runner released in 2014 by Twentieth Century Fox.
In the book, Dashner begins the story of the Maze by introducing Thomas, the newest Greenie who wakes up in the bottom of the Box not knowing anything about himself, not even his name. He is greeted by the other boys, the Gladers, and shown around his new home, the Glade, a large expanse of land surrounded and enclosed in huge stone walls. Each boy has to pull his own weight in order for them all to survive, leaving them all with jobs to make their enclosed community run smoothly.
As Thomas soon learns, the Gladers are sure of only a few things: every morning the stone doors open, every night the doors close, and you do not want to be stuck in the maze at night because that is when the Grievers, a weird mechanical, bulbous type of monster that, if they corner you, can sting you and make you go through the Changing, come out. Every night after the doors close, the maze changes, making it even harder for the boys as solving the maze is the only way they can escape. Every thirty days a new Greenie is delivered in the Box. These things have been consistent since the first group of boys woke up in the maze over two years ago. Until Thomas shows up… Then everything changes.
The movie version deviates from the plot of the book, but in a good way, in a necessary cinematic way. Some of the plot points Dashner makes in the book would have been difficult and a little far-fetched to allow for on-screen time, but at the same time, the exclusion of those significant details changed the plot from what Dashner wrote in the book. (For example, the exclusion of the Cliff, the abyss that is mentioned throughout the book, allowed the movie producers to instead dive more into the mechanics of the Grievers and the interlocking technology aspects that WCKD, also known as the Creators, used to control the boys.) Many other changes were done to enhance the book, but the overall themes of the book are still present within the movie.
All in all, the movie allows viewers who have read the book a better understanding of the workings of the boys’ minds, to see in better detail the immensity and confusion of the maze, and the destruction that the Grievers, and therefore the Creators, run the boys through on a day-to-day basis.
In my opinion, the movie version did not detract from the book, but instead adds a necessary level of cinematic pop to keep viewers engaged in the Gladers’ lives and their struggle to get free.
The Maze Runner is also available as an e-book, an e-audiobook, a playaway audiobook, and a cd audiobook.