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Soundtrack review: The maze runner (John Paesano, 2014)

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Soundtrack review: The maze runner (John Paesano, 2014)


“The maze runner” is the beginning of another “young adult” saga adaptation. With the success of Twilight and The Hunger Games, the market is in demand of novels and movies like these. From what I saw in the trailer and from the reviews I read, this one sticks its head out of the bunch. John Paesano wrote the score, and he’s a relatively newcomer in the composer world. I hadn’t heard anything else from him before this one. 
And quite the first impression he makes! The score starts big, which is good but also risky if you can’t keep the pace and deliver the same thrills till the end. The first track, “The maze runner”, is an epic cue with the intensity of trailer music, and it promises that we’re in for a thundering score. But as any trailer, this cue is a little deceiving, because we wake up in an entirely different world from the second cue on. The mood gets quieter, and makes me think of a deserted and rather scary world. The tense tracks are ok, but nothing really sticks out for me at the first listen. They are enjoyable; they set the mood right, I’m sure they work very well in context, but for the standalone listen I didn’t find any 5 star cues there.
The story is different when the action cues kick in. John Paesano seems to be more comfortable composing those, because they sound awesome. “Banishment”, “Into the maze” and the beginning of “Section 7” raise my adrenaline level and make me wish to see the scenes they were composed for. These tracks are strong and engaging, and I will surely try them out for my running playlists.
And if the score opened up with a bang, John Paesano nailed the ending as well. I love a good ending to a score, because it makes me forget the parts I didn’t like that much and it leaves me with a good feeling about the score. “Goodbye” and “Final fight” are two brilliant and emotional tracks that serve as lead into the real standout cue of the score for me, “Finale”…
…this final track has everything I want in a cue:  it is touching, intense and it gives me goose bumps. It builds up like an epic cue should, it has a “forever” feel to it and it evokes to me emotional scenes from the X-men franchise for some reason. This is a very good feeling to have about a track, and a great way to end a very enjoyable score.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 70 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 15/ 63
Album excellence: 24%
Cues to listen to:
The maze runner
Into the maze
Final fight
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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