The Maze Runner

Perfectly serviceable Hunger Games wannabe

What we have here is two-thirds of a perfectly serviceable Hunger Games wannabe, featuring a cast of appealingly hunky guys expressly tailored to put YA-girl bums in seats.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up memory-wiped as a freight elevator deposits him in a mysterious place called “The Glade,” an isolated, closed ecosystem bounded by huge walls with only one monstrous door. He soon learns that he is just the latest arrival in a properly PC, ethnically diverse, guy-only Lord of the Flies-tinged functioning society.

The huge door opens in the daytime, leading to the title convolution, which however is patrolled at night by these murderous, creepy-crawly cyborg-spiders called “Grievers.” Thomas soon aspires to be a “maze-runner,” an elite group of agile kids who daringly map the maze. Then a girl shows up. It looks great; for the directorial debut of a production designer (Wes Ball), the special effects are mercifully restrained and support the story.

But ultimately there’s no exit to this maze. The film blows it all with a third act that falls all over itself setting up the sequel rather than creating a coherent, stand-alone story. That sequel damn well better be good. (113 min)