Directed by: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scoderio and Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Strapline “The Maze was just the beginning”
In a Nutshell:
Released one year after its first chapter The Maze Runner, this second installment, The Scorch Trials sees the continuing perilous adventures of Thomas, Teresa, Newt and their fellow Gladers. The first movie proved to be one of the biggest sleeper hits of last year, earning ten times its modest $34 million dollar budget.
I enjoyed The Maze Runner as a solid chunk of teen sci-fi adventure. This second installment picks up directly from the gladers rescue out of the maze at the end of the first movie. Having been rescued by the World Catastrophe Killzone Department (WKCD) (Pronounced “Wicked”) Thomas and company begin to realize that they may have been saved from the frying pan but will probably be thrown into the fire. Thomas uncovers an increasingly oppressive regime at the hands of newcomer Janson (Aiden Gillen) WKCD’s mysterious man on point and thinks “I’m getting out of here!” Thomas and co. therefore decide to escape and take their chances in the Scorch, a barren wasteland of desert, mountains and ruined cities populated by Cranks, humans at various stages of the Flare infection.
Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Scorch Trials. Where it differs from The Hunger Games is that while Catching Fire capitalized on what made the first installment work and brought us more of the same and more, Scorch Trials veers from its original text and decides to go in a completely different direction to it’s predecessor and is the worse for it.
Also, let’s face, the first chapter it was just the Gladers versus the maze which didn’t provide too much opportunity for some older heavy weight actors to help things along. This middle chapter does and was this franchises opportunity to stamp it’s mark with several key new characters being introduced. I honestly think this franchise should have taken a leaf out of the other Dystopian teen novels. It would have hugely benefited from the likes of The Hunger Games‘ Donald Sutherland or Divergent‘s Kate Winslet or Naomi Watts. What makes it worse is how they build up the introduction of some of these new characters in this new movie leaving you to think “Who are they going to reveal?” only to be ultimately let down on their choices. (No offense to the actors they did pick, of course.)
The best thing Scorch Trials has going for it is the action and in this regard alone it does improve on its predecessor, though the 3D here isn’t needed. Genuinely scary tension-filled encounters with the zombie like Kranks head the taut filled set pieces, although some sequences in daylight set against the vast CGI ruined cities did feel a little too similar to a video game. What disappointed me as well was despite heavy marketing of an impressive post-apocalyptic setting, how woefully underused the wasteland itself was used. Save a few genre-standard establishing shots, this landscape doesn’t play a huge part.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is on general release in the UK from today.