This movie made me hate flashlights. Why? Because three times, the characters are in chase sequences that involve them running through dark rooms while swinging around their flashlights with reckless abandon.
This is my review of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials!
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the sequel to last year’s The Maze Runner. In this installment, Thomas and his friends, Newt, Minho, Teresa, Frypan, and Winston have survived living in a large maze while fending off, for lack of a better term, mechanicle beetles called Grievers. Now they have escaped the maze and are staying in a facility run by Mr. Janson. They are hiding from the organization WCKD (pronounced as “Wicked” like the Broadway play), but when Thomas and company discover that Janson and his cohorts have, well, wicked intentions in store, they flee the facility and travel across a scorched wasteland that was once the U.S of A.
Everything good about the movie is in the first act. The conflict is well-established and the chase sequence is action-packed and perfectly paced. The facility develops its own character as a cold, unsettling sanctuary with hidden secrets abound.
Dylan O’Brien plays Thomas and makes the character a vast improvement from the first film, as well as the book. He doesn’t have a complex arch, but he is curious, fast-thinking, and as someone who is prone to anxiety attacks, I can tell that Thomas may suffer from high anxiety. O’Brien does what he can with the chracter he’s working with, and for the most part, he does a passable job.
I’ve always wanted to see characters actually walk into destroyed post-apolcalyptic skyscrapers and in this movie, they do! There’s one pretty cool sequence in the second act where Thomas and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) have to outrun the infected CGI zombie people in a collapsed skyscraper.
Honestly, if this was a short film on YouTube, it would be amazing. Just use the entire first act and then use the skyscraper fight as the climax, and you’ve got yourself a YouTube short film that gets a bajillion views.
This movie gets really repetitive really fast. In my intro, I mentioned how this movie made me hate flashlights. There are far too many scenes of characters running in dark places while wildly swinging their flashlights. A lot of scenes play out the exact same way: Thomas and the gang go to some rusty place, they turn the lights and CGI zombie brouhaha chase after them. Rinse and repeat. Even the Hunger Games have variety in their scene set-ups!
This movie has a major development problem, as in nothing gets a chance to develop. The movie attempts character development with Thomas, but because the script is so hellbent on keeping the story as mysterious as possible, very little is revealed about him or the circumstances surrounding him and his friends. The wasteland, aka the scorch, has no sense of place; it’s just a lot of sand and heat that never feels threatening. Actually, now that I think about it, they don’t spend a whole lot of time outside in the scorch until the third act. They just run across it from one broken-down building to the next.
I’m getting real sick and tired of the “good kids and shady adults” arch that contaminate these young adult movie adaptations, and this movie definitely falls into the trap. I’m all for the “kid trusts adults, but then sees their imperfections” narrative, but when EVERY. SINGLE. ADULT character is a Bond-villain wannabe and there’s no strong adult mentor on the good side, it gets pretentious as all heck.
This movie was doing just fine when it was Thomas & company versus WCKD and even the resistance run by Jorge and Brenda was all right, but then comes this Right Arm group comes in and now you have WCKD, the Right Arm, the kids and all the while, I’m just so worn out from all the drama with underdeveloped characters who I really don’t care about that I’m just waiting for the credits to roll.
Overall, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials slogs more than sprints. The action will definitely keep your attention, but the forgettable characters makes rooting for anyone a challenge.