The Scorch Trials
Starring Dylan O'Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Patricia Clarkson, Berry Pepper, Lili Taylor,
Scorch Trials is the second installment to The Maze Runner (2014) and is based on the popular teen novel series. As it often happens in adaptation series the makers of Scorch Trials seem so interested moving the story along, that they neglect to make the current film stand on its own. We know this can be done. Looking back at the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series’, or even Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight saga, each of those films had a story to tell on own in addition to furthering the tale.
Scorch Trials begins immediately following Maze Runner’s conclusion. It’s a different film all together, almost an hour longer (most of it spent running and fighting). We learn more about the world creator James Dashner has put us in and thankfully the same director continues the series.
Having the foresight and determination to get his friends through the maze, Thomas (O’Brien) must once again rebel in a new environment. Rescued out in the open by a man named Jansen (Gillen) who is running a facility filled with teenagers, Thomas quickly begins to suspect they have still not escaped Wicked. Newt (Sangster), Teresa (Scodelario), Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Frypan (Frypan) find a few new friends to help them escape back into the world of destruction which is filled with flesh-eating zombies. The teenagers seek refuge among the desolation wherever they can find it, seeking what is called ‘The Right Arm,’ responsible for destroying the last Wicked compound.
The Maze Runner, and especially this sequel, offer more of the same stunts, close calls and teenage camaraderie that has oversaturated the market.
The Hunger Games proved teen action films could be successful and enjoyed by all audiences. Since then Divergent, and now The Maze Runner series are desperately trying to reap what The Hunger Games sowed. What they fail to realize is Jennifer Lawrence is over half the reason Hunger Games works so well. Shailene Woodley and O’Brien don’t have the cinematic chops to elevate their stories to the level Lawrence has. The Maze Runner, and especially this sequel, offer more of the same stunts, close calls and teenage camaraderie that has over saturated the market. The producers have tried to find the few actors not currently involved in another franchise like Clarkson, Pepper, and Taylor, but the seasoned actors mean little to the young minds watching and get so little screen time they can’t develop their characters.
The Scorch Trials is significantly darker than the first film, more profanity, more deaths and more terror. Yet how many times do we need a scene in these movies where the lead actor slides underneath a rapidly closing door, just in the nick of time? Or a fake out death from a main character, who after some shaking is just fine? In spite of the uniqueness of the novels, writer T.S. Nowlin and director Wes Ball choose scenes and scenarios that are all too familiar to movie goers instead of trying to make this series stand apart. As a singular film, it does nothing but just move pieces across a very complicated chess board and waits for the next move.
– Not a lot of depth to a series that does nothing but run, fight and then more running.