The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: In a rigidly structured dystopian future, one plucky teenager dares to think for himself, shake up the status quo and start a revolution–or, at least the beginning of a trilogy.
Such is the stuff of “The Maze Runner,” which hews pretty closely to the YA-novel formula that’s reliably produced so many hugely successful film adaptations in recent years. And, indeed, director Wes Ball’s film is based on the best seller by James Dashner. It features a similar structure, hits some recognizable beats and includes some character types that will seem pretty familiar to anyone who’s seen the “Hunger Games” films, or “Divergent,” or “The Giver.”
But its roots stretch back further to classic, allegorical literature about frightening utopias, especially “Lord of the Flies.” While there’s no Piggy and no conch, the teenage boys who populate this eerily idyllic society have formed their own leadership and their own rules, and they think they’ve achieved a peaceful sense of order.
That is, until Thomas shows up. Actually, he doesn’t even know his name is Thomas at first. Dylan O’Brien (MTV’s “Teen Wolf”), who resembles a young Rob Lowe, plays the confused young man. At the film’s start, he finds himself rising quickly in a big, rickety freight elevator that’s also loaded with supplies. (The film’s sound design is quite startling and effective; it puts you on edge from the earliest moments.)