Dystopian futures featuring teenagers seem to be the new craze when it comes to young adult fiction and movies. I am extremely happy about this turn of events; the vampire romances were getting old. The Hunger Games is currently making a crapton of money, Divergent is also making a buttload of money, and now it’s The Maze Runner’s turn to have a go at box office gold. But how will it stack up next to these other successful dystopian movies?
So what does this movie have going for it? Right off the bat, The Maze Runner has several actors that already have pretty strong fan followings. Dylan O’Brien of Teen Wolf fame takes on the role of Thomas, our main character, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, known for Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, and Phineas and Ferb is taking on the role of Newt. Kaya Scodelario, a star of the TV show Skins, will also be joining our star-studded cast as Teresa. So, if nothing else, this movie has some actors that fans definitely want to see, and all seem to be regarded pretty highly for their acting abilities.
But how does the story do when compared to other teen dystopian dramas? I’ll be honest, I have not read The Maze Runner trilogy, but after watching the trailer and doing a quick Wikipedia search, there are somethings I am excited about and others I’m not looking forward to. The main thing I am excited about is that there are three main actors of color in this movie: Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, and Aml Ameen, who all seem to be featured pretty prominently in the trailer. It’s so important to have characters of color in dystopian stories because sadly, more often than not, only white people seem to exist in dystopian stories, which inadvertently sends the really creepy message that people of color somehow didn’t survive, and nobody wants that. So I’m excited to see more diversity in this movie.
One disappointing thing about this movie, however, is while every other major dystopian movie has a female main character, in this movie Thomas will be our main character, not Teresa. Now this wouldn’t bug me at all—it’s only one out of three movies so far with a male protagonist, after all—but Teresa is the only female character. Yes, there is Ava Paige, but she is a villain and an adult, so it’s not like she is going to be the focus of our teen dystopian drama. Teresa is the only girl, so she nicely fulfills the Smurfette Principle, and according to Wikipedia her character appears and almost immediately falls into a coma for some reason. Yep: a coma—you read that right.
Now she eventually wakes up and does cool things, like having telepathy, apparently. But I do tend to get nervous that the trend our last two dystopian films set—featuring strong female characters—could be ending. It’s disheartening to hear that the next highly anticipated dystopian film only has one female character, especially when the previous movies not only had women as their main characters, but also as interesting and well-rounded supporting cast members. I certainly hope The Maze Runner won’t undo the progress made by films like The Hunger Games and Divergent.
But, for now, the movie does look pretty interesting, and certainly seems to be worth your time.