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The Maze Runner book offers a fast-paced introduction to a dystopian society written by James Dashner. It’s a book that relies on spending time in its main characters head, and it thrives on creating a puzzle for its characters, asking viewers to guess and wonder why The Glade exists and why a group of misfit boys have been placed in its strange and horrifying environment.
Wes Ball’s The Maze Runner asks the same questions and requires the same commitment from its audience, creating an energetic and mystery-ridden world in which answers are not readily forthcoming or apparent. Still, while The Maze Runner movie shares a lot of the spirit of Dashner’s novel, it’s a wholly different affair. Much of the time when I put together this column for Cinema Blend, I spend time writing about nuanced changes made to tighten up a script. Unlike many book adaptations, The Maze Runner, while constantly nodding at its source material, is very different from the book it is based on. It makes for a lively movie, although fans of the novel may find themselves a little put off by the changes made for the theatrical version.
Following are the 10 biggest changes I noticed in my screening of Twentieth Century Fox’s The Maze Runner. Plenty of other details were changed, of course, and feel free to remark on any changes you feel may have been more noticeable. There are many spoilers in The Maze Runner book to movie comparison. Do not delve in if you want the film to be a surprise.
Thomas starts to remember things from his past life almost immediately. After relearning his name, he begins having dreams, dreams which feature himself and a young woman along with an older voice constantly purring "Wicked is good." This allows the screenwriters to cut out most of the extemporaneous griever attacks and allow the characters to remember a few details from their past without getting stung.
In the movie, Alby and Thomas get along pretty well. Instead of being negative and somewhat antagonistic toward Thomas, Alby takes on a mentoring role early on. This helps Thomas to ask bold questions more quickly and allows the environment in The Glade to be a little less terrifying than the book.
Minho is braver during the night he is stuck in the maze with Thomas and Alby. Thomas is just as obsessed with the maze in the movie as in the book, and when he makes the decision to run into the maze as the doors are closing, Minho stick around and tries to help launch Alby into the ivy. He later does run off, but doesn’t seem scared witless, which makes his bravery later on more realistic.
The serum appears just in time to save Alby from a griever sting. In the books, the serum to save those stung by the grievers is taken for granted and a part of everyday life in The Glade. Because the serum is not readily available, the boys distance themselves a lot further from the grievers to avoid getting stung and dying.
Teresa doesn’t spend half of the movie in a coma-like state. In the movie, soon after arriving, Teresa wakes up and she, like the boys, doesn’t remember anything about her past. She even provides some comic relief, climbing to a high vantage point and chucking objects at the boys. I’d say that’s a better fate than actually triggering a series of events that leads the grievers in and shuts off the sun.
A device in the griever helps the team to locate the secret door and the key to their escape. In the book, Minho and Thomas uncover a hidden griever entrance, but don’t realize it is the key until much later. In the movie, a device found in a dead griever unlocks a hidden part of the maze, leading to an escape plan.
Thomas and Teresa are not telepathic. I’m totally fine with this decision, as it would have been weird for them to communicate telepathically via voiceover in the movie. That’s also a decision the recent teen flick Beautiful Creatures also made.
The maze is constructed differently, with 8 marked areas and a different area opening up each day for the runners to explore. The patterns in the maze are different and the code the kids need to ultimately escape is found in the numbers of the areas rather than words spelled out by the maze over a period of time. This is certainly an easier and less convoluted answer to the puzzle.
When the grievers leave the maze, they attack hard. Instead of sneaking around and stealing one boy a night, there’s mass chaos in The Glade when the grievers escape the maze. Many boys die in the battle that ensues, including Alby. It makes for a more entertaining battle, but it also means there is less death and destruction during the escape a few scenes later.
Gally briefly takes over as the leader of The Glade. After Alby’s death, Gally attempts to get Thomas and Teresa banished. However, Minho, Frypan and the gang smartly step in. Gally’s just as angry in the movie as he is in the books, but since he doesn't have flashbacks, his motives are a whole lot creepier. He seems to just have an acute issue with change, as well as an unnerving attachment to The Glade.