Teenagers are getting it in the neck again, in the latest dystopian Young Adult literary sensation to get the Hollywood treatment. 'The Maze Runner', adapted from the first novel in a series by James Dashner, takes a 'Lord of the Flies' setting of boys fending for themselves in the great outdoors and chucks in some 'Lost'-style sci-fi. Sixteen-year-old Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up in a field known as The Glade, remembering only his name. For three years, boys have been arriving here at a rate of one a month, and say what you like about crap teenagers, but this lot are doing all right for themselves: farming, building shelters, even herding goats.
Surrounding The Glade is a giant mechanised labyrinth that changes pattern every night. Thomas joins the 'maze runners', a squad of super-fit kids who spend all day mapping the maze and dodging enormous venomous spiders. The boys are shocked when the next arrival after Thomas is a girl (Kaya Scodelario), who shows up with a note in her hand: 'She will be the last'.
Why are the boys there? Who built the maze? What does the WCKD organisation have to do with it all? 'The Maze Runner' outruns most of the competition on the YA pitch. What’s missing perhaps is the force that propels 'The Hunger Games' films. But the acting is superb and bravo the filmmakers for not throwing in a drippy teen romance. Entertaining but never quite thrilling, this actually feels like the second film in a franchise, coasting along, but saving the best bits for the next episode.