"Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" stars Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, and Patricia Clarkson. Released on September 18, 2015, the film has Thomas and the Gladers trekking through a dangerous landscape known as the Scorch in order to escape from the clutches of W.C.K.D.
The film is directed by Wes Ball, who is known for directing its predecessor, The Maze Runner. It is the second installment in the Maze Runner film series, which is based on a series of books by James Dashner. The first film, in my opinion, was really decent, although it wasn't as deep as The Hunger Games. Now we have the second chapter of the saga, which appears to be raising the stakes in terms of its location and its "obstacles". Once again, I haven't read any of the Maze Runner books, but I was interested in checking the films out anyway, including this one. Was the film able to survive the Scorch?
For trilogies like this, filmmakers tend to make second chapters that take place after the events of their predecessors and let them end on a cliffhanger to get people excited for the final chapters. This film is no different. What I liked about The Maze Runner was its blend of action, characters, and mystery and how that blend made the story intriguing as well as thrilling. “The Scorch Trials”, on the other hand, does seem to rely more on the action and thrills rather than the characters and the mystery. This type of issue may disappoint some people who enjoyed the first film, but it still offers some enjoyable thrills for those looking for some heart-pounding action. Most of the main cast from the first film made a return and they delivered some decent performances. O'Brien did a nice job portraying Thomas, one of the survivors of the Maze. I just liked the fact that Thomas never gave up on his friends during this type of situation despite the fact that he worked for W.C.K.D. once. However, the rest of the characters showed little to no character development throughout the journey, so that needs to be fixed for The Death Cure. I really enjoyed the design of the Scorch, a desolate city that is caused by the Flare virus, even though it wasn't as immersive or memorable as the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max. My only other flaw with the background design is that it felt similar to the other post-apocalyptic survival films, such as the Resident Evil film series (mostly the third film, Extinction). In fact, just looking at the zombie-like creatures (Cranks) made me think about Resident Evil. The way they shot the action sequences were a bit better compared to its predecessor. The shaky camera work in this film wasn’t that much of an issue, and Wes Ball offers plenty of action that’s intense and full of danger. The film showed some themes about sticking together and redemption in the form of Thomas, but due to its average script, it wasn’t enough to fully develop those themes on a more personal or emotional level. The pacing can be a bit slow during a couple of scenes (the film runs at around two hours and 10 minutes), but the story was able to hold on to my interest.
Overall, despite the film’s thrilling moments, “The Scorch Trials” wasn’t able to survive the devastating Scorch due to its lack of character development and emotional depth. It’s enjoyable for what it is, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a small step down from its predecessor. Fans of the book series might enjoy this installment. The ones outside of that fan base are better off getting left behind in the heat.