Dylan O'Brien stars as Thomas in THE MAZE RUNNER, a film directed by Wes Ball. Photo credit: Ben Rothstein. Image & © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.
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The Maze Runner (2014)
Opened: 09/19/2014 Wide
|Harkins||09/19/2014 - 11/20/2014||63 days|
|Showcase Lowell||09/19/2014 - 11/13/2014||56 days|
|AMC Empire 25||09/19/2014 - 11/13/2014||56 days|
|AMC Deer Valley||09/19/2014 - 11/13/2014||56 days|
|Embassy Cinema||09/19/2014 - 10/23/2014||35 days|
|Methuen 20||09/19/2014 - 10/23/2014||35 days|
|Apple Cinemas||09/19/2014 - 10/23/2014||35 days|
|Arclight/LA||09/19/2014 - 10/09/2014||21 days|
|Bow Tie Chelsea||09/19/2014 - 10/02/2014||14 days|
|Claremont 5||09/19/2014 - 10/02/2014||14 days|
|Methuen 20||10/31/2014 - 11/06/2014||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images.
Never stop running. Always be alert. Bring back hope.
When Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys, he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape. Based upon the best-selling novel by James Dashner.
About the Film
Thomas wakes up in a lift, moving slowly upward. As the box grinds to a halt and the doors open, he s finds himself among a colony of boys who welcome him to the Glade -- a large open expanse surrounded by enormous concrete walls. Thomas' mind is blank. He has no knowledge of where he is, doesn't know where he came from, and he can't remember his parents, his past, or even his own name.
Thomas and his fellow "Gladers" don't know how or why they got to the Glade. They only know that each morning, giant concrete doors that lead to the Maze open. Every night at sunset they close. And every thirty days, a new boy arrives in the lift. The predictable behavior of the Maze made Thomas' arrival expected. What's not expected is having the box appear again, less than a week later, carrying Teresa, the first girl to arrive in the Glade.
Thomas learns that each resident of the Glade has a role to play, from gardening to construction to being one of the elite runners who map the walls of the Maze that keep them captive and change configurations every night. Maze Runners race the clock to cover as much ground as possible before the end of the day when the Maze locks down and the deadly biomechanical Grievers roam the corridors of the concrete structure.
Even as a newcomer or "greenie," Thomas feels an unsettling familiarity about the Glade and the Maze. There is something locked away in his memories that might, in fact, be the key to solving the mysteries of the Maze and possibly the world beyond.
THE MAZE RUNNER is based upon the first book in a bestselling series by James Dashner. Published in October 2009, the novel became a New York Times Best Seller and captured the imaginations of readers around the world, who described it as a combination of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and the legendary television series Lost. Dashner understands those comparisons, especially to Lord of the Flies, but notes that THE MAZE RUNNER is at its heart a very different story. "I don't think characters would react they way they do in Lord of the Flies," he explains. "I think they'd be more civilized, orderly, and determined to survive and escape. THE MAZE RUNNER is an adventure story that's also about hope and the potential of the human spirit."
The book caught the attention of producers Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Lee Stollman from the management/production company The Gotham Group. "We see a lot of young adult novels," Stollman explains. "And you always look for something that has a big world creation with characters that are identifiable and something we haven't seen before," which is what they found in Dashner's book.
To faithfully adapt the novel to the screen, the studio turned to Temple Hill Entertainment producer Wyck Godfrey, who enjoyed tremendous success with the Twilight film series. Godfrey credits his sons Wyatt and Hudson for making him aware of the Maze Runner book series. "I immediately said yes when 20th Century Fox came to me with the opportunity because my kids will finally be happy I'm making a movie that works for them," he says.
To capture the big-screen expectations of The Maze Runner's dedicated fans, the production turned to first-time feature film director Wes Ball. Ball's only previous directorial effort was Ruin, a seven-minute CGI animated short that had become an online phenomenon.
Ball says, "I have a small visual effects company and I decided that after a couple years of doing other people's work, I wanted to do something for myself. I closed up shop and made Ruin. I put it online and it just kind of exploded through Twitter."
A highly visual, economically told action story set in a futuristic city overgrown with vines, Ruin was conceived as the opening sequence for a feature Ball was hoping to develop. After watching the short, Fox's development team knew that Ball possessed the vision and inventiveness required to bring THE MAZE RUNNER to the big screen.
When the Studio suggested he read The Maze Runner, Ball knew it would be his next project. "I had this really strong image of what it looks like inside the Glade, which I saw as a raw, edgy, blown out, and naturalistic environment with imposing concrete walls surrounding it. I realized that it was a world I wanted to live over the next few years."
Ball was also drawn to the character of Thomas, the story's protagonist. "Thomas is someone who takes that step forward into the unknown when everyone else takes a step back," the young director says. "It's this idea that you have to be brave enough to face the unknown if you want to find yourself. Thomas is curious, and some in the Glade perceive that as a threat, but it may be the thing that gets him out of there.
"Additionally, I love movies about world creation, and this film is a world creation, top to bottom. We start in the Glade, which the boys have built, then outside those walls, we enter the grand world of the Maze, and that's a whole different scenario."
Ball and Godfrey began putting together the project's myriad elements. Godfrey remembers, "The one thing that blew me away when I first sat down with Wes Ball was that his concept of the Maze went beyond anything I'd imagined."
The next step was to assemble the cast to portray the Gladers, who form a highly functional society as they perform their daily jobs, look out for each other and engage in power struggles as they try to solve the mystery of the Maze. Godfrey says, "The casting was one of the most exciting things about the project. The actors really believed in this world, and we went far afield to find them."
Leading the cast is Dylan O'Brien as the resourceful Thomas, who's convinced there's a way out of the Maze. Familiar to fans of the MTV series Teen Wolf, O'Brien has what Godfrey calls "a great everyman quality. Dylan is very relatable in the way that recalls the young Tom Hanks. He's not overly glamorous and he's a great athlete. Dylan could handle the physical requirements required for the character."
O'Brien notes that despite the frightening and mystifying circumstances under which Thomas arrives in the Glade, the experience brings out the best in the character. "Until that moment he wakes up in the lift in the Glade, he's probably led a pretty sheltered life," says the actor. "Being put in this situation and under those circumstances, allows him to tap into instincts and a kind of heroism that was always inside of him. He doesn't let his fear of this new and unknown world prevent him from being curious about it. It doesn't hold him back."
Thomas comes to learn that he is just one of many who have come up on that elevator once a month over a three year period.
The leader of these Gladers is Alby, who's the closest thing to a father figure. "Alby is the main dude," says Ball. "He was the first Glader, the first boy sent up the elevator, and he had to survive an entire month by himself not knowing where he was and without any help. Then the next guy showed up. Alby figured out that order and discipline were necessary to survive in this world. He's very protective of it."
Aml Ameen was cast as the authoritative Alby. Recently seen in Lee Daniels' The Butler, Aml is "a great new face," according to Godfrey. "He's just got gravitas, like a young Denzel Washington."
Ameen embraced the character's leadership and paternalistic qualities. "Alby creates a mythology and set of rules for the boys to live by," he explains. "They are a family and Alby thinks they were all put in the Maze for a reason. But the most important thing is that they stick together. The Gladers are a family. So, Alby embodies all of these beautiful, complex things that actors love to play."
Thomas's nemesis in the Glade is Gally. Smart and intimidating, Gally wants to maintain the status quo and clashes with the new arrival. "But Gally and Thomas are really two sides of the same coin," notes Ball. "Thomas fully embraces and charges into the unknown and Gally is all about self-preservation and keeping things safe and normal."
Will Poulter, who starred in the cult film Son of Rambow, and recently showed his comic skill in We're the Millers, portrays Gally. Godfrey says, "Will's the perfect Gally because you don't want to mess with him, and he's an intelligent adversary."
Gally's trust in and insistence on the status quo is not without good reason, says Poulter. "He's not so much the law-keeper as he is a guy who has a lot of faith in the rules, because without them, the Gladers will die," he explains. "So Gally is quick to speak up and challenge Thomas when those rules aren't respected. To him, those laws are life itself."
Novelist Dashner also rejects the idea that Gally is a villain. "I wanted to set him up as a major rival to Thomas, but I also wanted readers to empathize with him and understand his beliefs and actions," he says.
Alby's lieutenant, Newt, is played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who appears in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones and first gained attention for his performance in Love, Actually. Of Newt, Godfrey says, "He's second in command, but not really ready to take charge. Thomas just has this quality I remember from Newt in the book... he's a bit of a rascal."
"Newt is Number 2 in the Glade," echoes Ball. "If Alby's not there, Newt takes up the reins, but he's not really up to the challenge and it makes a kind of power vacuum with Gally, who prefers to do things his way."
Newt walks with a limp that's not fully explained because it's something he'd prefer not to talk about. Nevertheless, Brodie-Sangster says the character is "the fun one of the group, the one that everyone gets along with. The Gladers come to Newt with their problems because they like and trust him."
British actress Kaya Scodelario plays the only young woman among the Gladers, Teresa, who has a mysterious connection with Thomas. Having made her name with the UK TV series Skins, Scodelario impressed the filmmakers by being "one of the guys," as Godfrey puts it. "She's badass, which is what you need to be if you're going to be thrust into the world of the Glade with all these young men."
"Teresa is every bit as tough as the guys," Scodelario affirms. "She's independent, feisty and tough and definitely has a 'don't-mess-with-me' vibe."
Moreover, says Ball, "she's every bit as mysterious as the Glade and Maze, and when she comes up on that elevator, it all goes really bad."
The elite among the Gladers are called Runners, whose athleticism propels them through the Maze each day, which helps them compile a map of the foreboding structure and, maybe, figure out a way to escape. Their captain is Minho, played by Ki Hong Lee. The young actor grew to understand his position of leadership among the Gladers in a very individual way. "I looked at the Marines and the Army and, and I consider Minho like a general of the Gladers," Lee explains, "It's his job to rally the troops."
The youngest Glader is Chuck, a likable and loyal kid who looks up to Thomas and works as a Slopper -- the Gladers who aren't good at any of the other jobs. "He's this adorable kid -- sort of like a little brother character," says Ball. "He tries hard, and nobody expects much out of him, though he gets his hero moments."
Chuck's friendship with Thomas provides some of the film's most fun and heartfelt moments. "They're more than friends," says Blake Cooper, who takes on the role. "Thomas is like an older brother and mentor to Chuck. They really look out for each other."
In a contemporary, digitally-fueled take on a classic casting story, Cooper tweeted author Dashner and director Wes Ball to ask if he could audition for the role of Chuck. When the filmmakers saw Cooper's audition tape, the response was unanimous: he was Chuck.
To play the imposing, enigmatic Ava Paige, head of the experimental program called WCKD, about which the Gladers make a startling discovery, the filmmakers cast Patricia Clarkson. The acclaimed actress has starred in films ranging from Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island to the smart teen comedy Easy A, and won Best Supporting Actress from the National Society of Film Critics for The Station Agent.
Ava and WCKD are mysterious entities whose actions reflect some of the story's central themes, such as "what is good, what is evil, and what do people do when pushed to desperation," says Dashner. "So WCKD purposely has this name that leads you to think certain things, but eventually, it gets a little more gray."