Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aiden Gillen, Patricia Clarkson, Ki Hong Lee
Written by: T.S. Nowlin and (based on the novels) James Dashner
Running Time: 131 mins
Release date: 10th September 2015
Last year I was a huge champion of the YA dystopian drama, The Maze Runner. Even to the point of saying that I felt it was better than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Twelve months down the line and I was excited to see the sequel, The Scorch Trials. Unfortunately, like most “middle” films, this failed to deliver. Only this time on a massive scale.
Thomas and the gang, having escaped the maze and believing they had stopped WCKD and Doctor Page, they find themselves in a safe haven run by Janson. It soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems and so Thomas and the Gladers must head into the outside world, to reach the Right Leg. First they must battle the heat, fellow survivors and, worst of all, the Kranks.
What I liked about The Maze Runner was that it offered us something a little different from the usual post-Hunger Games movies. Setting it in a world where the kids haven’t a clue why they are there, having power issues among themselves and at the same time, trying to find a way out was all interesting and original, to a point. The Scorch Trials offers us nothing like the first film, instead covering ground that has been well trodden.
So instead of the political upheaval among the collective captives, here we have Thomas, leading them from one situation to another, running away from hostiles or zombie-like creatures in a sand-dune backdrop that looks like a rip-off of Planet Of The Apes. All of this running is aided by the jittery camera work, making it almost impossible to distinguish what is happening.
Our gang, reduced in numbers but still going strong, have to run through a shopping mall, that soon becomes reminiscent of Dawn Of The Dead. They run through tunnels and into tall buildings. They run through campsites. In fact, anywhere they can run, they do. At over two hours, you demand much more than just lots of running. Admittedly, there are odd moments when the set pieces work very well. A scene in a tall building where one character is lying on a cracked window, facing her doom into an abyss, only to be joined by a zombie, is quite tense. Yet these moments are few and far between.
When they are not running, we get long scenes explaining why they are heading to the mountains or why they are immune to the bites of the creatures or why they wanted so badly by Janson. Then it’s back to the running again.
The performances, once again, are limited to lots of looking scared and, of course, running. Lead Dylan O’Brien still hasn’t picked up much screen charisma, yet I am sure that young girls will find him easy on the eye, even if he’s a bit bland. Aiden Gillen appears as Janson, dressed in a leather jacket and giving another “he seems nice yet he isn’t” performances, while it was nice to see a brief appearance from Lily Taylor, even if she is given nothing to do.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials clearly is that difficult “second” album, with hope that the final part is up there with the first. Frankly I think we’ve seen the best already, which is a pity, because it started so promisingly. With its countless false start endings, in a muddled finale, I left the cinema feeling unsatisfied, where before I was brimming with hope for an outstanding new series. Maybe I went in with too high expectations. Maybe I demanded more than what I was given. Whichever way you look at it, this is a disappointment.