Weekly Review: Maze Runner – The Scorch Trials (2015)

After managing to escape the glade, Thomas and the other survivors find themselves involved, once again, in WCKD’s elaborate schemes. This time they face the dangers of the scorch.

I haven’t read any of the books in The Maze Runner series, so the movies are all that I really have to go off of. That being said, I did enjoy the first installment. I’m a pretty big fan of dystopian and post-apocalyptic settings, and The Maze Runner series definitely delivers that. Due to my feelings with the first movie, I was definitely looking forward to seeing The Scorch Trials.

That being said, without seeing the first film, The Scorch Trials may be hard to follow. There were some instances where I was confused myself, and I needed to figure things out afterward.

Based on the title of the film, I thought this sequel was going to follow a similar plot as the first. During the first Maze Runner film, a group of adolescents are kept in a place referred to as “the glade” with a maze, filled with deadly creatures. They have to survive this setting on a daily basis, and even more so, to escape it.

Since the title of this new film was The Scorch Trials, I thought they were going to be escaping one maze, only to be stuck in another. In reality, the word “trials” could have been removed entirely from the title. It would have been far more fitting for the movie to be titled, Maze Runner: The Scorch. By including the word “trials,” it definitely seemed as though the problems the characters faced in the film would be entirely by the hands of WCKD, but it’s definitely more of a general survival story.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 4.19.24 PM

Similar to the first film, The Scorch Trials is filled with action. In many ways though, it felt that this movie was too long, and it felt that there was too much action. I say that because it was very intense with very little breathing room. There are some cool moments, including a chase through a broken and collapsing building and a lightening storm. These moments help keep the movie entertaining, despite the seemingly endless chase that the movie presents.

Another aspect of The Scorch Trials are these creatures called Cranks. They’re hinted at toward the beginning of the film, and then they’re further explained as the movie goes on, leading the story to a whole other level than what viewers previously saw. These Cranks are infected people, and the movie portrays them in a way that is very similar to World War Z.

By adding these Cranks to the storyline, The Scorch Trials takes the film franchise to different territory. It’s no longer a matter of training these adolescents for battle in the maze. Now it’s about developing a cure for the disease that creates the Cranks, and WCKD needs these same adolescents to do that. This is the element that confused me at first. I actually think I liked the story better before the “save the world” storyline was introduced.

This sequel brings back old characters and introduces new ones. We still have Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) who has transformed from the new guy to the leader of the pack. Minho (Ki Hong Lee) is my personal favorite, and he makes a return as well, definitely adding to the survivor group (and unfortunately is credited much later in the end titles than I feel he should be). Some new characters we’re introduced to include Janson (Aiden Gillen) a security officer for WCKD, Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) a gang leader in the scorch and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) his right hand woman.

By bringing in the new characters that it does, The Scorch Trials has a hard time juggling both its old and new characters. The survivors of the first movie are delegated to side characters after about 45 minutes. This was a massive bummer for me because I would have liked to see a lot more from Minho, who proves very early on that he has the potential to be the worthy protagonist of the franchise.

Overall, The Scorch Trials is still entertaining in its own way, but it’s not as appealing as the first movie to me. The first movie benefits by placing the viewer in the same boat as its protagonist, figuring things out as the movie goes along and never fully getting any answers. This movie seems more like a continuous chase that gets pretty repetitive, but manages to remain nice to look at. The Scorch Trials is an entertaining movie, but some may feel disappointed with it.

We know there will be another film in the franchise,┬álikely to be released next year. We’ll see how well the story gets wrapped up.

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