Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, 2015.
Directed by Wes Ball.
Starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Allan Tudyk, Aidan Gillen, and Patricia Clarkson.
After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.
The Maze Runner wasn’t a terrible addition to an over-saturated market of young adult novel adaptations, just a frustrating one. Mystery permeated the experience, but very little questions were answered by the end of the endeavor. So logically, one would think that Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials would spend a substantial amount of time spoon-feeding us answers that align its narrative into focus, except it really doesn’t. In some ways The Scorch Trials might be an even more frustrating watch.
Filler is never really interesting material for advertised trilogies, but filler for a series where most people probably just want answers make for a truly tedious viewing. The purpose of the maze and exactly why these children were placed there to fend for themselves and survive Lord of the Flies style is explained but more so glossed over than actually given thought put into with detail. Even so, the general reason isn’t even that satisfying and makes very little sense.
The Maze Runner at least had a cool concept to fall back on that paved the way for a number of exciting action sequences, meanwhile The Scorch Trials is a very generic chase through a vast desert landscape with numerous destroyed buildings and various other apocalyptic motifs. To say that going from a maze constantly morphing its own structure, to a desert is disappointing to say the least. I also have no idea what the trial is considering to my knowledge there isn’t one, unless the objective is to simply survive and not get recaptured by WCKD.
That’s not the only major letdown however, as The Scorch Trials actually decides to incorporate zombies into its sweeping narrative about different factions fighting over these children for unknown reasons. We already have enough zombies on our screens, be it television or theatrical, so why this movie decides that watching teenagers narrowly escape becoming lunch rather than telling an engrossing story is yet another decision that boggles the mind. There’s really nothing creative going on with the zombies either, unless you consider copying the Clickers from The Last of Us original.
The survival skills of these children will also leave you smacking your forehead. One character is forced to commit suicide before evolving into a zombie, which is all well and good, except no one decides that they should take the gun back after this character is done. They essentially just give up their weapon and move on without retrieving it. And then there’s a short scene of one character completely tossing a canteen into the desert after noticing it’s completely empty, because you know, canteens can never be refilled…
If the action on display was exhilarating, a lot of these gripes could be mitigated but as is, The Scorch Trials is really just nonstop chase sequences that don’t offer up an engaging sense of danger or thrills. The desert and apocalyptic settings are pretty to look at, but also literally nothing new, so praise in that regard can only go so far. The only noteworthy thing about the action is that the WCKD militia sport gear resembling the suits from Dead Space. Okay, to be fair the final sequence is alright too, but mainly because of the double-crosses and the series finally finding some footing to potentially deliver an entertaining finale.
There are also some new characters to be found on all fronts, whether it be teenagers or adults with shady motives. Most notably is Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones) playing his usual suspicious self, acting cool and calm but perfectly illustrating to the audience that he does have an ulterior motive. In general, he makes for a much more intimidating villain then Patricia Clarkson, who is also here but again doesn’t do much.
In some ways The Scorch Trials is a success considering I am looking forward to its conclusion as a franchise, but the journey there has been incredibly disappointing and lackluster. Instead of diving into a complex story about analyzing the brain the series has become your average run-of-the-mill finding a cure for a zombie outbreak tale. The original at least had a pretty cool maze, unfortunately now they have taken it because apocalyptic zombie scenarios sell more. Yawn.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook