TOP 20: Movies Like The Maze Runner

TOP 20: Movies Like The Maze Runner

2014 saw the release of the first movie in the Maze Runner trilogy. The box office smash was based on...

2014 saw the release of the first movie in the Maze Runner trilogy. The box office smash was based on...

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2014 saw the release of the first movie in the Maze Runner trilogy. The box office smash was based on a successful adaptation of a series of novels by James Dashner. The story takes place in a dystopian reality, where a boy named Thomas arrives in The Glade. His memory is erased. He adapts to his new home and gang of boys headed by two leaders Newt and Alby. 

Every so often, supplies arrive, and each month so does another boy. An ever-changing maze of sliding walls and monsters surrounds the Glade, and the group sends ‘runners’ to try and find an escape route. 

After a girl arrives who can communicate telepathically with Thomas, shortly afterward, a small number of the gang survive a night in the maze. 

The movie then follows strange changes that happen to the young people’s daily lives as they solve the maze and attempt to escape. 

Without giving away spoilers, the youngsters find themselves the subject on a post-apocalyptic experiment, setting up the sequel and leaving audiences wondering if they will finally break free or be kept as human lab rats. 

If you loved it, try these titles. 

Movies Like The Maze Runner:

1. Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

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Next on the list is fairly obvious – the follow-up movie. The gang runs from enemy soldiers and the people who imprisoned them and must adventure through abandoned cityscapes and parched deserts. They discover that there are other mazes and resistance groups and seek them out.

They face Cranks (humans infected by a virus) and team up with other survivors. Ultimately the soldiers find the youngsters and capture some for further experiments. Thomas must then try to take back control and invade, setting up the next and final movie. 

2 Maze Runner: The Death Cure 

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Thomas and several more humans are immune to the worldwide ‘Flare’ virus after finishing off the trilogy. With the resistance group Right Arm, they rescue other pockets of immune people. They head to the Last City to save a member of their group held by WCKD troops, the trilogy’s enemy organization.

Disguised as fellow soldiers, the group eventually finds a serum to slow the spread of the virus. The fate of the remaining population rests on the shoulders of Thomas, and after the loss of a friend, he must try to be the hero and restore society. 

3. The Island

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If you’re looking for scientific drama with an ethical dilemma at its heart, The Island is a must-see for you. It deals with humans living in a seemingly perfect society being used for sinister biological research. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson star as clones, created solely to be organ donors and surrogates for wealthy customers.

The clones are told lies about the safety of the outside world and promised safe passage to an island in due course. In reality, they are being exploited and harvested for body parts. When Lincoln (McGregor) learns the horrific truth, he sets out to free his fellow clones with the help of Sarah Jordan (Johansson) and expose the lies. There is no island, only freedom.

4. The Hunger Games

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The theme of adults enslaving young people is at the heart of the Hunger Games trilogy. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to participate in a deadly game of life or death to save her sister. She and her close friend Peter represent their region in the Games. This is a televised survive-or-die contest that regularly occurs under the whims of the evil ruling Capitol and its dark leader President Snow.

Katniss battles against the odds and manages to win, coming up with a plot to subvert the rules. The battle to bring down the control of the Capitol can now begin. This movie is also based on a bestselling young adult novel, and Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss is now well on the way to being a feminist icon as well as a much-loved character.

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5. Catching Fire 

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This is the sequel to the Hunger Games, and after the first Games, Katniss has sparked a revolution against the Capitol in the other districts in her world. President Snow forces her to marry Peter to de-escalate the unrest, make the public happy and control her via threats to her family.

The couple’s celebratory engagement tour sparks further protests and culminates in a special edition of the Hunger Games. Katniss and Peter y must compete once more. A group of rebels saves her after a plan that has been long in development behind the scenes, and she joins the fight to finally bring down the rule of the Capitol. 

6. Mockingjay

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This completes the Hunger Games Trilogy and is spread over two movies. The member of the resistance hides underground in District 13. Katniss agrees to lead the revolution provided that all other Hunger Games survivors have immunity and President Snow is executed. Meanwhile, the Capitol threatens to torture Peter. He eventually escapes, although he is brainwashed against Katniss.

Death, betrayal, and action combine as the rebels take on the Capitol and Snow. Everything works out at last as the fighting settles down, peace ensues, and Katniss and Peter settle down together to recover from the trauma of the games.

7. Labyrinth

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This 80s classic featuring David Bowie and a teenage Jennifer Connolly once more features a maze, but a maze of the mind. Sarah wishes away her baby brother to be in the kingdom of the Goblin King. Sarah must confront the twists and turns of the King’s creation, the Labyrinth before the clock runs out and the baby is transformed into a goblin forever. 

From meeting magical creatures and with dreamlike riddles to solve, the movie has friendship and responsibility as its message. The true way out of the Labyrinth is when Sarah realizes what’s truly important and learns to be less selfish.

8. Ready Player One

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This movie is a love letter to gaming, robotics, and VR.  Ready Player one introduces us to a virtually constructed world called OASIS, which helps people escape from the troubling reality of the society of the future. Its creator dies and leaves his wealth and product rights to anyone who can find a certain item in OASIS.

A young orphan player, Wade, takes on the challenge before a suspicious corporation can beat him to it with their slave-like employees. With friends and fellow heroine Samantha, he has to take on puzzles and increasing danger, all the while racing against time to secure the item.

9. Love and Monsters

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Netflix produced this monster-based quest movie in 2020, combining sweet friendship with an idealistic romantic mission. In a landscape populated with gigantic creatures, Joel Dawson leaves the safety of his underground human colony to find his true love, Aimee.

Joel meets allies along the way and uses his courage and cunning to get to his destination. The fear of the unknown and our hero’s quirky allies and good heart makes for an exciting blend of elements. The film features some great humorous moments, which adds an extra appeal to the usual stress of a post-apocalyptic plot. 

10. Lord of the Flies

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Based on the classic novel by William Golding, this 1990s movie manages to bring to life the shocking moral descent of a group of boys who have found themselves in a hostile and unsafe environment. The story explores herd mentality, tribalism, and how alliances and factions form and create dangerous tension.

Leaders emerge, and conflict is never far from erupting into the forefront as the boys navigate survival on the remote island where their aircraft has crashed. Will they ever escape, and what deadly deeds will happen along the way? This adaptation follows the novel imaginatively.

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11. Divergent

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Featuring a sharp female protagonist, Divergent explores a future where people must choose a faction to belong to after being advised with a serum which they would suit best. Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is warned that she doesn’t fit exactly into any of them and realizes that the world is not as perfect as it seems. 

As she discovers that war is building beneath the surface and a plot to overthrow the authorities is afoot, this movie explores deeper themes about free will and how society likes to place people into ‘boxes.’ Beatrice changes her name, takes on the plot to replace and destroy the government and experiences a great loss.

12. Insurgent

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Five days after ‘Divergent’ ends, Beatrice is now ‘Tris’ and is on the run from the faction that tried to overtake the government. The heroes explore the past and those who didn’t make it during the first part of the story and uncover answers about why the Erudite faction finds them to be such a threat.

Action-packed and thrilling, there are more stunts this time around. The movie ends with Tris realizing that the faction system was a social experiment and the outside world is ready to be explored. The movie ends on a shocking cliffhanger.

13. Allegiant

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Following ‘Insurgent,’ the final installment of the series is split over two movies. Tris escapes captivity from the very beginning and ventures outside the ruins of what was once Chicago with Four (Theo James). They eventually arrive at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, where answers about the origin of the factions are revealed. 

Tris is seen as pure and the answer to a cleansed new world – will she stand alongside the people or side with the Bureau? The Divergent movie series questions how people can be seen as ‘less than’ compared to other groups and encourages protest and solidarity.

14. Dark City

Mind control and amnesia feature heavily in this Rufus Sewell movie (1998). The enigmatic Strangers are able to alter the structure of the city and put people to sleep at will. John Murdoch is the hero who must rebuild his memories of the past and prevent The Strangers from erasing his identity and taking over his thoughts. 

All is not as it seems as John wakes up seemingly having murdered a woman in his hotel room. He is pursued by the sinister group and must uncover the true nature of his own identity, his environment, and his love interest Emma. 

15. Cube

This sci-fi horror crossover is a Canadian indie cult classic and is going to be remade in the near future.  Shortly after a victim is killed in a futuristic, cube-shaped room, Several strangers find themselves in a similar set of chambers, with traps scattered throughout and no memory of how they got there.

Each has a different skill that will help the group to escape. In turns cerebral and violent, Cube contrasts flawed people with the logical and deadly puzzle of each room. Cube is a movie that can be about what the viewer wants it to be about, and the end of the tale doesn’t wrap up with easy answers.

16. The Village

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As is tradition for an M. Night Shyamalan project, there’s an incredible twist to this survival mystery/horror movie. The village is a safe hub for a simple community of people, surrounded by a forest containing savage creatures ready to destroy anyone who ventures into it. There are rules of survival to stay safe – for example, the color red is known to attract monsters, so it is never used.

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The Elders must be obeyed at all times. Eventually, secrets begin to unravel when one young villager needs to make a journey into the woods to get some much-needed medicine. The forest dwellers begin to encroach on the community, and nothing is safe anymore.

17. The Host 

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Twilight author Stephenie Meyer penned the book that this movie is adapted from. Alien hosts have taken over the bodies and minds of all humans, except for a few survivors who retain their identities. One of the aliens, Wanderer, is inserted into our hero Melanie Stryder who fights to retain her memories and find her family. Wanderer is benevolent and connects with Melanie’s being on a deep level.

They set out on a quest to find an underground human community, and a human boy Ian begins to fall in love with Wanderer. One of the few examples of an alien parasite being kindly to its host body, the movie is emotional and thought-provoking as to who are the real villains of the piece.

18. The Giver 

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12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of Memory for his community in a futuristic and seemingly blissful society. This means that he stores their collective emotions so that everyone else can experience sameness’ in return for no pain or suffering. He finds it difficult to balance such a responsibility, and the movie explores whether or not a peaceful and smooth existence is worth losing a complete human experience.  

The Giver, the person who will train Jonas, works with him to restore all the missing memories so the community can find their way back to making the right choices. The movie has moving themes of sacrifice and moral dilemmas. 

19. Wrath of the Titans

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Based on Greek mythology and given a big-screen boost, this movie follows demi-god Perseus as he tries to live a quiet life as a fisherman and father. However, peace will not reign for long as the gods, and war-like Titans lock horns and unleash hell upon the mortal world.

Eventually, Perseus has to venture into the underworld to save Zeus and restore balance to the mortal realm.  If humans fail to worship the gods and Titan leader Kronos escapes from the underworld, humanity will be doomed. Packed full of excellently rendered monsters, this is a fantasy adventure with plenty of action.

20. The Darkest Minds

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This features a band of children with superpowers on the run from the government. A disease has killed all but 2% of young people, and the survivors, with their new powers, are announced to be a threat. Threatened with containment in specially built camps, Ruby escapes and joins other fleeing teens.

After a painful parting from her family, she doesn’t allow herself to get close to Liam, a boy who’s interested in her. Ruby faces up the reality that she may be a pawn in a bigger strategy against the government and must ultimately decide what she wants her future to look like.  An overlooked gem of a movie with many parallels in today’s world.

Conclusion

Since the 1980s, a dystopian landscape with puzzles to solve, far-flung communities, and friends to help on the journey has proved to be classic ingredients in exciting science fiction movies. Throw in young adult protagonists and shadowy, mysterious organizations, and you have all the makings of many of the great films described here.

Whether you prefer deep questions about governmental mind control or the fun and peril of escaping from monsters, there is something here from everyone. Slick and high-tech, or a dustbowl filled with ruins, there are many ways to explore the wastelands of the future. It’s interesting that many of these movies are based on popular novels aimed at a teen audience which shows that a great story translates easily across different media.

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