Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Directed by:  Wes Ball

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaye Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen

Ever since the success of the Twilight and Hunger Games series of films, studios have been trying to find the next big young adult book craze.  Many attempts have failed, but in 2014, Divergent and The Maze Runner films met with some success and earned sequels. Based on the second novel in James Dashner’s science fiction trilogy, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials picks up where the first movie ended.

The world has been decimated by the sun and a vicious disease called the Flare. W.C.K.D, the World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department, runs horrible experiments on teens immune to the Flare in an attempt to find a cure.  Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Theresa (Kaye Scodelario), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and others were part of the experiments.  They are rescued from W.C.K.D and flown to a secure facility in the middle of the desert.  The facility is run by a slippery gentleman by the name of Janson (Aidan Gillen).  Initially, Thomas and his friends are simply relieved to be out of the Glade, able to take hot showers and sleep in a warm bed.  However, Thomas soon discovers that their new home is actually another arm of W.C.K.D.

Thomas and his friends manage to escape the facility.  Unfortunately, their escape leads them right into the Scorch.  The Scorch is a desert wasteland.  They face windstorms, the sun, lightning strikes and the elements.  Even worse, the Scorch is home to bloodsucking zombie like “people” who have been ravaged by the Flare.  As Thomas and his group battle trial after trial, they hold on to a hope that they will be able to evade and ultimately defeat W.C.K.D.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
is bigger and more intense than the original film.  Director Wes Ball presses the gas pedal at the beginning of The Scorch Trials and never lets up.  Our teenage heroes are literally put in one life threatening situation after another.  Sprinting zombies (my worst nightmare) and vicious weather patterns create heart pounding sequences.  Similar to The Walking Dead, however, other people are the biggest threat in this apocalypse.  Ball skillfully heightens the sense of danger with the film’s battered landscape, destroyed buildings, and endless mounds of sand.  He literally brings the audience into this dystopian nightmare.

For book purists, the film strays quite a bit from the novel.  Key characters from Dashner’s second book are present, the settings are familiar and the overall themes are the same.   However, I literally did not know what was going to happen because the film strays very far from the plot of the book.  The filmmakers took the novel’s general premise and then reimagined a new storyline completely for cinematic effect.  Given the complexity of the book’s tale, I understand the changes.  However, as a result, the film does not have the same depth as the novel on which it is based.  At certain points, the movie feels like one action sequence after another without the same character insight and narrative voice as the novel.

Overall, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is an adrenaline-fueled flick.  It earns a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a Corona with this one.