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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Maze (1953)



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Realism in special effects isn't always a good thing. Sometimes old fashioned special effects, such as those seen in King Kong or Jason and the Argonauts add a nightmarish quality that realistic computer graphics could not achieve.

This is not one of those cases.

The majority of The Maze is a poorly written but mildly interesting mystery about a man who inherits a castle in Scotland and quickly becomes somber and reclusive, going so far as to cut off his engagement with his fiancee without explanation. She invites herself over to get to the bottom of the mystery. From that point, the movie could work well except that for all the fretting and talking and investigating, she never seems to make any progress. She doesn't, so we don't, and that just makes us impatient for the mystery to be revealed already. Eventually, though, the movie picks itself up just long enough for an creepy atmospheric sequence inside the hedge maze of the title, and then it all falls apart.

Ordinarily, aged special effects is not even a transgression, let alone a forgivable one. But The Maze is undone because it spends over an hour promising something it can't deliver.

The crash is spectacular. Maybe in 1953, audiences could forgive the laughable special effects, but even the most timelessly minded of modern audiences would find it difficult to maintain any semblance of suspension of disbelief. When my wife and I watched this together, we collapsed in groans and laughter, and the movie irrevocably lost any chance it had of salvaging a story we could care about. I suppose it's not a great loss anyhow, because the acting and writing already consign the film to mediocrity, but...well, wow. Just wow.