The Maze was just the beginning…obviously otherwise there would be no point in having a trilogy. Based on the popular YA novels, The Scorch Trials is the second in the Maze Runner series. I really enjoyed the first one, but will this sequel run out of steam?
Picking up where the last film left off, Thomas and co have escaped the Maze and believe their troubles are behind them. However they realise that their enemy W.C.K.D are still active, leaving the group to make an escape to the deserted lands outside.
One of The Scorch Trials best attributes is its high octaine action sequences, and like the first film there are some very tense moments. While the first film was being compared a lot to movies like The Hunger Games, The Scorch Trials seems inspired by The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later when our protagonists come across some unwelcoming sights in the desert. There are moment when the pace dips a bit but then another action set piece comes along to keep things moving.
Once again Dylan O’Brien shines as Thomas, and he’s aptly supported by Ki Hong Lee (Minho) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt) as Thomas’ loyal friends. However Theresa (Kaya Scodelario) still feels underdeveloped and gets more annoying in this film. New girl Brenda (Rosa Salazar) comes across as more interesting and gets involved in more of the action than Theresa does. What I also like about the actors is that they really look like they’re running for their lives when they’re sprinting from danger, unlike most actors in these kinds of movies.
The main big bad W.C.K.D are a bit underwhelming as this all-powerful organisation cliché. The film tries to give them a it’s-for-the-greater-good motive to make them seem a bit more three-dimensional but I really didn’t care. The Scorch Trials is also not quite as good as it’s predecessor but sets up well for it’s final movie (another point in this series favour is that it’s not trying to split the last book into two movies-thank god!).
The Hunger Games won’t be losing it’s crown as the best of YA film adaptations but the Maze Runner series still hold some great action and adventure as well as protagonists to root for. Plus any film that uses Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight as an important plot device gets my vote.
Rating 3.5/5 – an action packed and exciting way to start the autumn
Summer is over and so are most of the big blockbuster films of the summer. Hoping to repeat the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent comes The Maze Runner, adapted from the novel by James Dashner. With an intriguing premise and positive early buzz, can The Maze Runner be the next franchise to watch out for?
Teenager Thomas (Dylan O’ Brien) wakes up in an abandoned place called The Glades, he has no memory of anything apart from his name. His only companions are a group of teenage boys who have been sent there years before Thomas arrived. Every day they try to find a way out of the Glades through the maze that surrounds them. But the maze changes everyday and if they don’t return before night they risk getting stuck with the creatures that hide within the maze. Can Thomas find a way out, discover who he is and why he has been put there?
Yes this may be another adaptation of another popular young adult book series but The Maze Runner doesn’t feel like a poor imitation of The Hunger Games or Divergent. It refreshing to have a male teenage lead for once, especially as O’Brien seems to be a young talent to watch out for. We are thrown straight into the action seeing Thomas waking up in his new surroundings and feel Thomas’ confusion and desire to know more about who placed them in the Glades. He makes for a sympathetic lead among a cast of strong supporting actors most of who are British (always glad to see Brits doing well). Former child actors Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually and Game of Thrones) and Will Poulter (Son of Rambow and We’re The Millers) are great as two of the Gladers Newt and Gally. Poulter in particular is good. Although Gally is technically the antagonist to Thomas, his actions are understandable considering the hostile environment and years of torment he’s had to experience. Aml Almeen is also memorable as Alby the leader of the Gladers.
As with all the best teen adaptations there is a nice dark tone to the film, with hints of Lord of The Flies with the whole young boys left alone idea (not that it goes as dark as that). It also has a good mix of adventure with creepy monsters hunting in the maze as well as the great concept of the Maze itself. Seeing the movie in Imax also made the depth of the maze seem more impressive and completely daunting. There is also a welcome bit of humour to lighten up the film so it does not go too dark.
It disappointing though that the main female, Kaya Scodelario’s Teresa, is underdeveloped and mainly seems there to push the plot forward. And although I liked how the ending teased the next installment some may feel it lacked a definitive ending. But for me this is a franchise that is entertaining and stands out from the other YA pack of the moment. While it’s not quite up to the standard of The Hunger Games, at least Katniss finally has some worthy competition.
Rating 4/5 – exciting and thrilling, I can’t wait for the sequel already!