Director Wes Ball is back for a second installment of a series based on the best-selling young adult book series The Maze Runner. Last year, the first film of the series was released with relative success as an enthralling, action-packed teen flick. Though the plot structure was far from complex, it utilized the conventions of a dystopian future that made it a feel-good film due to its predictability.
Picking up where The Maze Runner left off, Scorch Trials follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) after he and his friends have broken free of the deadly labyrinth they were trapped in with no memory of their capture and must form their own primitive society to survive. O’Brien and his fellow prisoners, called the Gladers, soon realize that the World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department, the group that had been caring for them, is dangerous and controlling. They then make their escape. The Gladers begin their torturous journey of survival in a dystopian wasteland as a virus that turns humans into
zombie-mutants ravages the landscape. Thomas and his friends attempt to find the fabled resistance troops as they outrun an ever-growing number of enemies.
Working within the confines of a mid-franchise movie, O’Brien shines through the weak structure. Despite his inadequacies as a leader, he proves himself to be a likable and genuine character throughout the adventure. Even the most skeptical audience members will be gripped by Thomas’s ability to evade death by the skin of his teeth, driving his pack forward on their mission. However, the film never gets too in depth into his character, making him less intriguing than the first movie. Perhaps they are saving the juicy details and plot lines for the final installment of the trilogy.
Other highlights of the movie include performances from the rest of the Gladers. The symbiosis between Thomas, Teresa Agnes (Kaya Scodelario), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Newt (Thomas
Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Winston (Alexander Flores) provides an on-screen chemistry that is reminiscent of the cast of The Walking Dead. As the rest of the Gladers fight off infectious zombies, their perilous journey has audience members sitting on the edge of their seats. Additionally, the main antagonist, Janson (Aidan Gillen) creates a spooky quality that rivals the intensity of the zombies on screen.
Regardless, Scorch Trials is overwhelmingly predictable and adds nothing new to the dystopian action genre made popular by the Hunger Games trilogy. The dialogue features sappy reflections over the departed Gladers that don’t necessarily live up to Katniss Everdeen’s diatribes about the oppressive society in District 13. At least the first movie kept viewers questioning why Thomas and the Gladers were in the maze in the first place. Scorch Trials is an easy watch for those looking to get a quick rush from the astounding special effects and evil villains.
The new conflicts and relationships ultimately try to hook the audience members into purchasing a ticket to The Death Cure, due to be released in 2017. But for now, catch The Scorch Trials in theaters.