Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials


And so we get part 2 of the worst series in the current crop of teenage post-apocalyptic movies. For those who don’t know, in my head the cinematic arithmetic goes like this: The Hunger Games > Divergent > The Maze Runner. And that’s even taking into account that Insurgent dropped the ball.

Maze Runner: The Scorch TrialsThe Scorch Trials begins moments after the first film ended, with the group of young survivors from the Glade now having reached the safety of a high security compound. But are they really safe? Of course not! Within minutes, we know that something’s amiss, not the least because the compound is run by the ever-so-shifty Aidan Gillen. Before long, the group are on the run again, this time through the wasteland known as the Scorch.

The film falls into an annoying rhythm: come across a group of survivors. Run away. Come across another group of survivors. Run away. Rise and repeat. And the strange thing is that I care about this kids even less than I did the first time around. I’m sure all the young actors are talented – I know for a fact that Thomas Brodie Sangster (‘Game of Thrones’, Love Actually) has mad skillz – but Kaya Scodelario in particular is completely wasted this time around. This is a performer who has impressed me since her first appearance on ‘Skins’, and yet stands around for most of The Scorch Trials, doing very little. I only just discovered that the ‘Maze Runner’ books featured telepathic communication between the lead, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), and her character, Teresa. Did they ever consider putting this into the films? Did the actors think that that was going to be added in post? It surely would have given them something else to do.

As derivative as Divergent is, it’s at least good fun, with a great lead character. Here, Thomas is just…bland. We’re given no understanding of what he stands for, why he does what he does. To be fair, it’s a problem that often pops up when we have a main character suffering from amnesia. It’s hard to put my finger on how they should handle such a conceit, but I can at least point to The Bourne Identity as an example of when it does work.

The Scorch Trials has a lot more money to throw around than the first film (almost double, in fact), and it shows. There’s less action hidden by darkness, and a helluva lot more running. That doesn’t make the film more interesting, however, even if there are decent adult performers popping up along the way like Gillen, Patricia Clarkson, Alan Tudyk and Lili Taylor.

The Maze Runner continues its journey into mediocrity with film number 2. At this point, I’ll probably go and see the next one out of a sense of duty more than anything else. Here’s hoping for some kind of improvement…

Rating: 2 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 17th September 2015
Hoopla Factor: 2 stars

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