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An Underrated YA Action Movie Is Trending On Streaming

The Maze Runner is trending on HBO Max, eight years after it was released during the Young Adult book adaptation boom.

By Douglas Helm
| Published

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Fans of the 2014 film The Maze Runner must be on HBO Max this week because the film entered the Top 10 for the platform. The underrated movie came out when YA adaptations were running rampant in Hollywood but didn’t gain quite the respect and audience of its contemporaries, like The Hunger Games. Despite making decent money at the box office, you could say this film was underrated when it first came out.

The Maze Runner follows Dylan O’Brien as Thomas, a teenager who is dropped into a giant labyrinth along with other younger boys. Like the others, Thomas has no memory of who he is. He must team up with other members of the group and Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the only female in the maze, to find a way out.

Along with Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario, The Maze Runner stars Aml Ameen, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Will Poulter, and Patricia Clarkson. The film was directed by Wes Ball and adapted from the James Dashner novels by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, and T.S. Nowlin. Although it wasn’t as popular as YA adaptations like The Hunger Games, the film was well-liked by audiences and the profits were enough to warrant two sequels.

In other words, you can feel free to get invested in The Maze Runner story because there are two more films to check out afterward. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials was released in 2015 and Maze Runner: The Death Cure rounded out the trilogy in 2018. Although both sequels were financially successful, reviews were mixed compared to the mostly positive reactions to the first film.

The Maze Runner pulled in $348 million at the worldwide box office against a budget of $34 million, so it’s no surprise that the studio wanted to make more. With financial success like that, calling the film ‘underrated’ might be a bit of a stretch. At least, until you compare it to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 which came out the same year and brought in an eye-popping $755 million at the worldwide box office.

Main cast of The Maze Runner

However, The Maze Runner did manage to outperform other YA adaptations like Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters which came out a year earlier, and Divergent which also came out in 2014. The former only managed to bring in $199 million worldwide while the latter brought in $288 million. People also pretty much hated Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Divergent, so The Maze Runner was better from a critical standpoint as well.

The YA adaptation boom has certainly slowed down since the 2010s, giving way to the superhero genre as the big movie trend. Superheroes were already taking over back when The Maze Runner came out, but now it’s hard to imagine that the two genres were similarly popular. Of course, YA still has legs as another film in the Hunger Games franchise is on the way in 2023.

For now, there aren’t any plans to revive the Maze Runner franchise, so we’ll just have to settle for what we have. If you missed this YA adaptation back in 2014 or if you haven’t revisited it for a while, you might enjoy throwing it on this weekend. YA adaptations aren’t for everyone, but this one definitely is a cut above some of the other options in the genre.

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