Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter Genre: Action/ Thriller Thomas (O’Brien) awakens deposited at a glade in the centre of a huge labyrinth populated by a group of young men with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. Though those that have lived there for several years have been unable to find a way out, Thomas’ search for answers leads to shocking revelations that put the lives of the entire group in danger as they try to finally escape. So we have yet another film to add to ‘Young Adult’ canon that is based on several books and the studio that funds it desperately wants it to be the next big franchise. Well, though it is certainly no masterpiece, happy to unashamedly embrace genre clichés and its attempts for mass appeal lead to some tonal problems, The Maze Runner is a hugely entertaining, fast paced and genuinely thrilling ride from start to finish. I of course make no secret of my opinion that The Hunger Games films are all rather average, well I am happy to go on record that The Maze Runner is better than any of The Hunger Games films with better characters and a more engaging and intriguing plot. Like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner does face the problem of being a film in which children are faced with moments of intense peril and violence, but yet the film has to make sure it is not too dark for the demographic it is aimed at. Well, The Maze Runner certainly has some very intense moments and apparently so that it did make a 12A certificate there had to be some last minute editing and cutting and it does jarringly show at times. Likewise the script is not exactly the most profound, with the clunky exposition and clichés often coming out of the young characters mouths. Admittedly The Maze Runner is also quite vacuous and shallow as its characters are also a little clichéd and there is no real deep encompassing or underlying themes which could have added layers to the story and made it even more engaging if dealt with intelligently. However, what it perhaps may lack in genuine depth, The Maze Runner certainly makes up for in genuine sense of peril and danger (something The Hunger Games often lacked) and thrills. The narrative throws us head on as our protagonist tries to make sense of what is happening around him, and though the pace does slow for the occasional helping of clunky exposition dialogue on the whole there is rarely a dull moment. The plot continues throws up genuinely intriguing questions and on the whole the answers are satisfying enough too. Thankfully though in The Maze Runner there is also no moping about like in The Hunger Games films or irritating love stories, the narrative just focuses on it main plot, and this only enhances the thrilling experience. The young cast all do excellent work; though their characters may lack depth at times, the performances most definitely enhance our emotional engagement with the narrative. Admittedly the actual story itself is far more interesting than most of the main characters individually, but nonetheless Dylan O’Brien’s Thomas certainly fits the mould of a great protagonist to route for in the next chapters of the franchise and he looks the part. Other characters are admittedly at the mercy of the narrative at times, but in what is of course the opening chapter they may well get their chance to really shine in subsequent chapters. Of all the cast the actor that stands out is Will Poulter; his performance and character have more of an edge and therefore genuine intrigue in comparison the other characters. It is by no means perfect, but as an opening chapter of a franchise, The Maze Runner entertains and thrills from start to finish, laying very solid foundations and certainly sets up very nicely for September’s The Scorch Trials. Despite occasionally reverting to clichés, having flat dialogue, lacking any real character depth and the occasional problem with tone, The Maze Runner is a genuinely enjoyable and thrilling ride from start to finish and in comparison a superior addition to an overpopulated genre.