Hot Take: Admire director Wes Ball’s dedication to action in this thriller but eventually the lack of details in The Maze Runner catches up and scorches the sequel. The Scorch Trials still delivers but overall, the second installment is slightly diluted.
Somehow, more is less in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials when it comes to plot development. While the second film in The Maze Runner trilogy has the same intense pace to its action scenes and close to the same dedication to focusing on the thrilling action, the plot rides shotgun and occasionally gets an opportunity to take the wheel as the audience learns along with the characters what is exactly going on here.
Unlike the first film, we’re promised some answers in The Scorch Trials. And while some lingering questions are answered, others are touched on vaguely to give the same teaser feel as the first film heading into the third and final chapter of the series.
The Scorch Trials picks up exactly where The Maze Runner left off as Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and the rest of the survivors of The Glade are extracted to a facility where they are promised safety and a bright future. Credit the director for not hanging on to this hope for very long as we all know by the title, this isn’t where the heart of the film takes place.
Quickly (as is the case with everything that happens in The Maze Runner series), our protagonists are thrust into the vast dystopian wasteland of The Scorch. What’s the best way to describe The Scorch? It’s as if the Mad Max landscape somehow engulfed the post-Earthquake cityscape of San Andreas.
Another affirmative head nod to director Ball for trying to use action and visuals to tell the story which gives a lot of the “what happened?” and very little of the “why did it happen?” The biggest under-answered question revolves around WCKD and just how nefarious of a group it is. We know WCKD really isn’t good (heck, the name is WCKD!) but does the second film do anything to further our understanding? Maybe it does, though, as The Scorch Trial‘s action scenes are as intense and exhausting as the first installment and sometimes it’s hard to catch your breath to pay close attention to the plot.
There are plenty of twists and turns throughout The Scorch Trials. Some we’ve seen frequently before but enough freshness to think there could be a huge payoff in the third and final chapter due in 2017. (2017? I have to wait until 2017 to find out what happens? Are you kidding me?)
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Like the First Movie, The Scorch Trials is Loaded With Action (With A Twist)
If you saw The Maze Runner and loved the frenetic pace, it’s a safe bet you’ll enjoy the sequel’s action sequences. Arguably, the second film is more intense than the first. There’s a difference here as the intensity is scarier than the first which gives the action a refresh.
- Again, The Focus Stays Off the Age of the Protagonists
It’s amazing how a two hour film about a group of teens avoids treating the subject matter with a focus on their youth. Based on what is going on around them, these teens are forced to grow up fast and it looks like they’ve adjusted well. Maybe that mind wipe made them forget how teens act.
- The Promise of a Strong Third Act
There’s an unevenness present in the sequel but The Scorch Trials recovers at the end. Is it February ’17 yet?
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Some of the Answers Might Be Disappointing
Personally, this reviewer had no issue with some of the twists. However, there are answers given that might turn off some of the audience.
- Too Soon?
Granted, Mad Max: Fury Road came out in May but it was hard not to compare the vast dystopian wastelands of the two films which is really unfair because, when compared to Mad Max, The Scorch Trials looks like a paint-by-numbers painting next to a Monet.
- If You Had Serious Doubts About The Maze Runner…
You might want to sit out The Scorch Trials. The extended length and similar feel will likely turn your doubt into disgust. (Personally, I experienced neither but I was a huge fan of the first movie.)