Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, 2015
Directed by: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Patricia Clarkson
This film generally felt like James Dashner (the author of the novels) knew the idea for the first book and knew the idea of the final battle in the third book, and simply used the second entry to move Thomas (Dylan O’Brien, The Maze Runner) and his team from Point A to Point B. Scorch Trials sees Thomas and his band of survivors be re-introduced into the real world and explained how they’re immune to a deadly virus and were being tested with the maze to help find a cure. They don’t last too long in their new home as Thomas once again becomes suspicious of them and they break away to survive in the Scorch, a desolate area inhabited by zombie-like creatures.
I’ve recently read an article from a critic about how there’s no such argument that a film is too long, insisting if you feel a film is too long then its plot isn’t strong enough to survive the time afforded to it. And this film, for me, wasn’t strong enough to fulfil its two-hour-plus time. It felt very reminiscent of watching Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, despite being released beforehand (I’ve watched it afterwards) in it being a film where an event leads our characters running from Place A to Place B to Place C to Place D, starting off very impressive but soon turning very repetitive. By the time they’re forced to another location in the latter parts of the film it’s not as exciting because we’ve seen it quite a few times already, and it’s there where I felt that this film’s time could have been cut down. 20-minutes could easily have been shaved off to make a much more compelling film. That’s not to say this film is bad, it’s still a very fine sequel, but it isn’t an improvement.
For the most part, the film’s categorical scores are the same: the acting is as sound as the first film, the writing is as muddled as the first film (with one character finally stating that Thomas does ask a lot of questions, despite him still persisting with asking a lot more questions) and the presentation is a nice combination of looking impressive, especially the way the infected are presented, but annoying because of the lengthy dark scenes. The biggest difference is film’s style; no longer is it a contained film about confused boys surviving in a contained environment, it’s now a world-saving mission to destroy a massive organisation which is killing youngsters to find a cure. It’s open-world and there’s new characters, new factions and new battles, but Thomas’ battle against the higher bosses isn’t as compelling as some of the other young-adult novels, and I know James Dashner wrote the plot, but the film doesn’t present the significance very well, either.
While not as interesting as the first one, especially with the lack of questions needed, and too great an emphasis on the running (I get it’s a Maze Runner film, despite them not running through mazes in this film, and the running is a major part of the series, but it seems to overtake the plot development), Scorch Trials does set up the big battle that’s ultimately coming quite nicely. Although it does suffer somewhat during the middle part for being quite repetitive and by the end it is all too apparent this film/book was only ever made to move the pieces to their necessary new positions.
Plot: * * Acting: * * * Writing: * * Presentation: * * *