Studio – 20th Century Fox
Production Budget – $61 million
Director – Wes Ball (The Maze Runner)
Screenwriter – T.S. Nowlin, (Based on the book by) James Dashner
Actors – Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas-Brody Sangster, Aiden Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Alan Tudyk, Patricia Clarkson, Lili Taylor, and Barry Pepper
Plot – After escaping the maze, Thomas and his band of survivors are rescued by unsettling forces which cause them to flee across the scorched landscape in search of a greater safe haven with deadly monsters (some called The Flare) in tow.
Review – Well done. You made it to the second film. Which is more than I can say for many other hopeful big screen Young Adult adaptations. What set apart the first Maze Runner from the rest of the genre pack was its pre-dominantly male cast, fast-paced action, and initial lack of mythology. Now at least one of those elements remain as series protagonist Thomas starts asking questions to various colourful characters for the audience’s sake. This time the movie takes on the weight and expectations a second chapter demands, and despite plenty of action it comes up short.
What I’m told and has been said about the movie is that it is a major departure from the novels. That is fine as long as it takes us somewhere interesting. Instead the movie meanders from point to point with little story development as our heroes travel across ‘The Scorch’. Mostly its just running which is fun but the melodrama that fills those spots feels so piecemeal it causes the movie to suffer from a bad case of middle chapter syndrome. What feels more recycled is that director Wes Ball and screenwriter T.S. Nowlin don’t take the time to meaningfully develop their characters, and borrow shots from video games such as Spec Ops: The Line and The Last of Us. The only one who really seems to care about where all this is going is Thomas while the others seem more than content to just follow his lead. Mild spoiler alert: Until one of them doesn’t. And must I say it is the only refreshing thing to come out of The Scorch Trials which by the way doesn’t quite earn its title.
A few character actors show up to provide some different energy, among them Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and Alan Tudyk (Suburgatory). The last one always superb here provides a nice tone of diversion as a club owner wanting to get something out of everyone having a good time. But a fun diversion can only last for so long and after the first film benefitted from low expectations, the constant running around and franchise wheel spinning here gets tiring. “I’m tired of running”, Thomas says. We’re with ya buddy, barely just hurry up with The Death Cure already.
Running Time – 131 minutes
Rating – (-2 -1 0 +1 +2)