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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Review

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Last year’s The Maze Runner made a good play for the Young Adult adaption crown soon to be vacated by The Hunger Games saga, providing a unique spin on the usual tropes of the genre with what is best described as a sci-fi Lord of the Flies. With the second instalment, The Scorch Trials, we find ourselves in more familiar territory, with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow ‘Gladers’ free of the maze but at the mercy of WCKD, an evil organisation who intend on using the kids to eradicate   the Flare virus, a deadly disease that has decimated the population of this post-apocalyptic world and transformed many survivors into crazed, zombie like creatures known as Cranks. Escaping WCKD’s clutches, Thomas and his fellow survivors must cross the wasteland known as The Scorch to safety.

With director Wes Ball once again at the helm, The Scorch Trials is a much different animal than The Maze Runner, with the mystery driven narrative of the original giving way to a much more action oriented approach as the Glader’s journey through the Scorch is made up of a series of admittedly impressive set pieces which make great use of the post-apocalyptic setting. An attempt is made to deepen the mystery, but everything is laid out in such a straight forward manner that we can figure out exactly what’s going on from the opening frame (helpful note to the filmmakers: if you want to keep an audience guessing about the motives of an organisation, don’t have the face of that organisation played by Aidan Gillen, bad guy for hire). Ball and screenwriter T.S. Newline do a great job of building on the world hinted at during the finale of The Maze Runner, but a lack of conviction on how this wasteland came about (there is talk of a super solar flare, but it’s far too vague) proves to be incredibly distracting. As does a detour to a post apocalyptic night club that slows proceedings way down and proves to be ultimately superfluous.


Once the story kicks into high gear, the narrative lurches from one set piece to another, with the fairly thin plot stretched as far as it can go, but it still comes together in a family satisfying way. The action sequences involving the Cranks (think of a mix of the rage zombies from 28 Days Later and the fungus from video game The Last of Us) are breathless affairs, and see The Scorch Trials become a zombie movie of sorts, breaking up the exposition heavy narrative nicely, but they can’t help the story from feeling dragged out.  While The Maze Runner had plenty for the sprawling ensemble cast to do, much of the heavy lifting is left to O’Brien, while the rest of the cast, including Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones, Love Actually) and Kaya Scoldelario (Skins), don’t really have much to do other than run from Cranks and react to the story’s numerous revelations and info dumps.

A step down in terms of narrative, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is still entertaining YA fare and should leave fans eager to see the capper to the saga, due out in 2017.







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