I’m not sure if my experience with The Maze Runner series is the same as everyone else’s. I had never heard of it before seeing the trailer but the trailer really piqued my curiosity so I downloaded the book onto my Kindle after reading the blurb.
I then powered through the first book loving every minute of it, absorbing it all and feeling along for the ride. I then immediately bought the next two and I am now nearly through the final book.
So it was with much anticipation I sat down in the cinema the other day whilst the lights were turned down and the film started. Needless to say I was very excited.
As the credits rolled I felt a mixed variety of emotions. On one extreme I really enjoyed the film, it was very fast paced and kept my attention throughout (which was a feat in and of itself as I was very worse for wear after a lot of wine was consumed the night before).
But then as I drove home and spoke about it with my girlfriend who has read the book (on my recommendation I may add…commission James Dashner?) I began to really feel negative feelings towards the film. Our main concern was how much was changed!
The topic of things being changed in book-to-film adaptations is a very broad one but it’s also a conflicting one, to me at least. My main thought on the topic is this: I’ve already read the book, I know what happens, so when watching an adaptation why not change stuff so I can experience the story in a whole new way? That sounds good on the surface. But when you get so attached to a book and the way you have pictured things in your head the changes in a film can seem very jarring! (One of the best book-to-film adaptations I’ve seen in recent years is The Fault In Our Stars, this stuck very close to the source material).
-SPOILERS TILL THE END-
So below are 5 of the changes that the film made which I thought were quite major and some thoughts on each one. If you haven’t read the book I’d advise you to read the synopsis, you can read it one Wikipedia here.)
- No Telepathy – In the book Thomas and Theresa can speak to each other inside their heads. In the film there is no telepathic connection. My thoughts: I can understand why this was cut from the film, due to various constraints in visualising this on screen and also taking too much time to set up and explain without being too expositional. The biggest concern I have with the removal of this is in the second book (and it’s already been announced that there is going to be a second movie) the connection plays a really big part in the story when Theresa goes missing and suddenly Thomas can’t speak to Theresa in his mind. This is a big plot point for Thomas. So while it seems fine to cut it from the first film, it appears they will have to change this in the second film also having this knock on effect.
- The Cliff and The Griever Hole – In the book there is a location called The Cliff and over the edge of The Cliff is The Griever Hole. The Cliff was, well, a cliff which they stood at and saw there was nothing else out there, no more land to the horizon. Thomas and Minho, one of the other runners, threw stones over the edge of the cliff which vanished into thin air. Without going into too much detail they discover that The Grievers, the terrifying monsters from the series who come out at night, go over the edge of The Cliff when retreating during the day time and also vanish. They put two and two together and realise that basically there’s a door to where they live. Now in the movie The Cliff was non-existent but The Griever Hole was still intact in a different way. It was a mechanical door which was opened by a key pulled from a dead Griever. Over the course of both the book and the movie The Griever Hole is discovered to be the exit from the Maze. My thoughts: I did miss the cliff and the way this panned out in the book but then I did like the new take on The Griever Hole and how it appeared in the movie so this was one change I could get behind…except how it tied into their escape which leads me onto…
- The Escape – In the book the Gladers (what the kids call themselves, because the central part of the Maze is called the Glade) escape by realising that the key to escaping is in the moving walls. This requires a little set up for those who haven’t read the books, a select group of Gladers go running into the maze every day from morning to night and when they come back they go to the map room and draw up what they’ve discovered. The only problem is the outer walls are always changing position, but as they’ve mapped them out they’ve discovered that the walls move in a pattern. These patterns when drawn out and overlaid on top of each other spell a series of words which, when the Gladers go through the Griever Hole, they have to punch into a computer and this allows them to escape. In the movie Thomas manages to kill a Griever and when they look at the dead body they discover a device which acts as a key which when in proximity to the Griever Hole allowing them to escape. My thoughts: Well as you can see the movie version is certainly a lot less confusing and when you’re working with a limited time frame in a movie you need to be as clear and concise as possible which obviously they achieve. I preferred the book’s version but I also appreciated how it needed to be like it was in the film for the sake of time.
- The Attack on The Homestead – In the book at a certain point an event happens which allows The Grievers to enter the Glade when they come out at night. This happens in the film too. The difference though is that in the book everyone holes up in a building that’s in the Glade. The Grievers attack the building and break in taking one person every night, and they are programmed to do this till there is no-one left. In the movie the attack is almost an all out war with The Grievers just attacking in one big go and killing a few characters and then being fended off. My thoughts: This is very similar to the change made to the Glader’s escape, for the sake of time I can see why they made it so it was one big attack not a nightly thing but the suspense created by the nightly attacks really added to the overall gloomy feeling brought on by the circumstances!
- The Ending – For all intents and purposes the ending was basically the same, they get taken away by a group of armed people and the Glader’s fates are uncertain. In the book what happens is when the kids leave (after Chuck’s death, so many feels) a group of armed men take them away and put them on a bus and it appears that they have been rescued by some form of rebel group. As the bus sets off the Cranks (read: Zombies) are introduced, the bus even runs one of these over. They’re taken to a dormitory and dressed and fed etc and all seems well. In an epilogue a letter, from the shadowy organisation who organised for the kids to go into the Maze known as WICKED, it is revealed that they aren’t actually safe and are actually just being placed into Phase 2 of a series of tests. In the movie the kids escape, are led away by seeming rebels, are put into a helicopter and as the helicopter lifts up we see the Maze sprawled out on the ground with The Scorch (the location in which the second book takes place) in the background. It then ends with one of the people behind WICKED’s machinations revealing that Phase 2 is about to start. My thoughts: Personally, I didn’t like the ending of the film. Whilst the helicopter shot was very grand and a big cinematic finale the scene from the book was so much darker. Taken away on a bus in the pouring rain with Cranks banging at the windows and trying to get on the bus. So much more scary! Plus the epilogue in the film was an underwhelming experience as it followed the aforementioned helicopter scene. Also in both versions it is revealed that Earth has been hit by sun flares and destroyed everything, burning basically everything on the equator, to reflect this the Maze is in an underground facility in the book but in the helicopter shot from the film it is shown to be on ground level, open to the harsh damaging sun in the middle of a desert, but the Glade is a lush green forest like environment so the movie version makes no sense.
As I read back through this I realised how crazy the book sounds with all these different aspect and the ins and outs of all the phrases so if you haven’t read the book (which you should do, I highly recommend it) you may be a little confused by this article otherwise. But for those of you who have followed along let me know in the comments below if you agree with the five I’ve picked, and add your own changes you liked or disliked!