Continuing a trend that was kicked off by The Hunger Games franchise in 2012, The Maze Runner is just the latest film adaptation of a young adult dystopian science fiction novel to hit theaters. Based on a book of the same name by James Dashner, the film tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who inexplicably finds himself inside a complex and deadly maze with no memory of who he is or how he got there. The Maze Runner currently has a 62 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes and a 56 out of 100 score from the critics at Metacritic.
While the critics are less than united in their acclaim for The Maze Runner, the film appears to be a hit with moviegoers. The Maze Runner has an 82 percent audience approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a similarly high 8.2 out of 10 rating from Metacritic users. According to Box Office Mojo, The Maze Runner pulled in an impressive $11.25 million during its opening night on Friday, September 19, and achieved a respectable box office weekend take of $32.5 million.
With a story that centers on young people fighting against malevolent outside forces as well as among themselves, The Maze Runner bears some unmistakable similarities to the young adult classic Lord of the Flies, as well as more recent young adult science fiction films, such as Divergent and The Hunger Games. Of course, one of the primary story elements that allows The Maze Runner stand out from the many other young adult science fiction dystopian films is the deadly maze that the film’s characters are trying to escape. If seeing The Maze Runner whetted your appetite for labyrinthine passageways, you’re in luck: there are many other great films in which mazes are prominently featured. While the films included in this list were chosen on the basis of personal preference, the films are ordered according to their critical rankings at Rotten Tomatoes, from lowest to highest. Here are eight other great movies with mazes that could confuse the most experienced “maze runner.”
8. Cube (1997)
Like the characters in The Maze Runner, the characters in this science fiction horror film awaken to find themselves trapped in a deadly maze with no idea of how they got there. While both the mazes in these films are especially difficult to solve because they feature shifting parts, the maze in Cube is much more claustrophobic that the maze in The Maze Runner, since it is literally composed of small interconnecting rooms that are almost identical in appearance. The R-rated Cube is also considerably gorier than the PG-13-rated The Maze Runner.
However, if you’re looking for another film about amnesiacs inexplicably trapped in a maze, Cube may be the perfect film for you. While the film received mixed reviews from the critics, it was enough of a breakout hit to spawn two sequels: 2003’s Cube 2: Hypercube and 2004’s Cube Zero. Cube currently has a 62 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes and a 77 percent audience approval rating.
7. Labyrinth (1986)
Directed by Muppet-master Jim Henson, this musical fantasy adventure stars David Bowie as Goblin King Jareth and Jennifer Connelly as a young girl who must retrieve her kidnapped baby brother from inside a M.C. Escher-esque labyrinth. While the film was considered a commercial failure when it was first released, it has since acquired cult status for its extraordinary visual aesthetic and Henson’s impressive puppet creations. While Labyrinth currently only has a 66 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, it has an 86 percent audience approval rating.
6. Tron (1982)
Like Labyrinth, this groundbreaking film was hailed for its visual effects, but was considered a commercial flop. In the film, Jeff Bridges plays a software engineer who is digitized and inserted inside a computer where he is forced to battle other anthropomorphic computer programs. In one memorable scene, the characters must ride “Light Cycles” that leave a trail of walls that the drivers must then avoid hitting as they race through an increasingly complex maze. In another scene, the protagonist must navigate a maze while steering a hovering vehicle known as a “Recognizer.” While the film’s special effects appear hopelessly outdated today, at the time of its release the mazes in Tron were unlike anything else that had ever been seen. A sequel called Tron: Legacy was released in 2010, but fared poorly with the critics. Tron currently has a 70 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Inception (2010)
Christopher Nolan took a break from directing his Dark Knight trilogy to craft this mind-bending science fiction film that features some of the most visually stunning mazes ever seen onscreen. In the film, a group of thieves who steal information by infiltrating another person’s subconscious enlist the help of architecture student Ariadne (Ellen Page), who designs the labyrinthine dreamscapes that the characters will inhabit. While the mazes featured in Inception are far from conventional, it is no coincidence that Ariadne shares her name with a character in Greek mythology that helped Theseus escape the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Inception was praised by most critics for its inventive visual effects and unusual premise. The film went on to win four Academy Awards and currently has an 86 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Besides featuring the usual magical shenanigans from Hogwarts’ most famous student, this fourth installment in the highly popular Harry Potter film franchise also includes a classic hedge maze that features prominently in the film’s climax. In the film, Harry Potter must solve an enchanted maze in order to reach the Triwizard Cup. Unfortunately for Harry, it turns out that winning this contest may be worse than losing. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire currently has an 88 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
3. The Shining (1980)
Like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Stanley Kubrick’s psychological horror film masterpiece also features an intricate hedge maze. In the film, a writer named Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his family takes up residence at an ominous hotel that includes a large hedge maze. While the increasingly disturbed Jack tries to write, his wife and son pass the time exploring the vast hotel and its hedge maze. After Jack finally succumbs to his murderous impulses, the maze allows his family to escape as it simultaneously traps him. The Shining is widely considered to be one of the best horror films ever made and currently has a 92 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
2. Enter the Dragon (1973)
As if mazes aren’t already confusing enough, Lee (Bruce Lee) must contend with one constructed of mirrors when he fights Han (Shih Kien) at the conclusion of this classic martial arts movie. In the film, Han uses the room’s disorienting arrangement of mirrors to hide himself while he attacks Lee with an artificial hand outfitted with knife blades. Will Lee prevail? Let’s just say there’s a reason the film isn’t called Enter the Han. Besides featuring an unusual mirror maze in its climatic final showdown scene, Enter the Dragon is also widely considered essential viewing for martial arts fans. Enter the Dragon currently has a 95 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Director Guillermo del Toro used the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War as the setting for this dark fantasy film about a young girl who discovers an underground labyrinth full of magical, and sometimes menacing, creatures. Pan’s Labyrinth was hailed as a masterpiece by most critics and the film won three Academy Awards, including Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Direction, and Best Achievement in Makeup. The critics at Rotten Tomatoes called Pan’s Labyrinth an “Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups” and gave the film a 96 percent “Certified Fresh” rating.
More from Entertainment Cheat Sheet:
- 5 Films and TV Shows That Dumped Men for Female Leads
- 6 U.S. Films That Had More Success Overseas
- 8 Science Fiction Movies That Accurately Predicted Future Technologies
Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)
Want more great content like this? Sign up here to receive the best of Cheat Sheet delivered daily. No spam; just tailored content straight to your inbox.