Unlike the first instalment, Wes Ball’s Maze Runner: Scorch Trials favours spectacle and thrills over mystery and character development. A very different film from its predecessor, this sequel explores the dystopian world outside of the ‘Glade’, where Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow gladers were held captive in the first film, which was revealed to be an experiment orchestrated by the organisation, W.C.K.D, in order to find a cure for a post-apocalyptic disease. Despite being action-packed with some strong performances, the film’s erratic storyline prevents it from eclipsing the former film’s excellence.
Continuing on from where the last film concluded, we follow Thomas and the rest of the group be transported to a secure facility, after having finally escaped the maze, and they are situated among dozens of other teenagers. Just when it appears all is well, Teresa’s (Kaya Scodelario) separation from the group, ignites suspicion in Thomas. After he investigates some of the strange goings-on at the facility, this results in Thomas and the rest of gladers in a desperate bid to escape. This accumulates in the group’s search for salvation out in “The Scorch”, the desolate remains of society, facing various obstacles, the main threat being the “Cranks”, which are essentially zombies.
Wes Ball flourishes once again in constructing an enthralling world, adapted from James Dashner’s novel of the same name. However, on this occasion we are immerged into giant landscapes and ruined cities in which we follow the characters throughout their journey. Where this film succeeds is that there is such a compelling journey undertaken by these characters and you really want the group to survive the chaos and unravel some of the uncertainties they have faced. Dylan O’Brien does an excellent job of portraying Thomas, a likable hero that the audience can really care for and he provides a great performance and is central to the film’s progression. Many of the other characters in the group are largely on the periphery, most notably Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Minho (Ki Hong Lee), which is quite disappointing since they received far more exposure in the first instalment.
Wes Ballis seems much more concerned with fast-paced action than plot and character development, as opposed to the first film. The mystery, intrigue and character arch seems to have been abandoned, in replace for a generic zombie thriller that does not really offer anything new and the clichés are difficult to ignore. Although the film’s story lacks the originality that sets the former film apart, it is still very entertaining and the actions scenes manage to avoid being too predictable.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials absence of theme and social commentary prevent it from being in the same league as other young adult film adaptions, such as The Hunger Games and its subsequent sequels, but the film still remains a captivating adventure. Though Wes Ball’s film perhaps struggles to find an identity for itself, along with a plot that lacks depth, it is still a compelling and worthy entry in the dystopian genre.
By Liam Springate-Jones