Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Review: Trial and Error

Director: Wes Ball

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aidan Gillen

Please note, this review contains minor spoilers.

The Scorch Trials is the second installment in the adaptations of James Dashner’s popular young adult book series. Set in a post-apocalyptic society and with a group of teenagers as the film’s heroes, it draws obvious comparisons with The Hunger Games and Divergent series. Following directly on from The Maze Runner (2014), The Scorch Trials sees the continuation of the story as the heroes uncover new truths and face even more deadly challenges.  

The Overview

As already mentioned, the story picks up exactly where the first film left off, with Thomas (O’Brien) and the rest of The Gladers searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organisation known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the “scorch” of the title, a desolate and barren landscape filled with new dangers and secrets to be uncovered.

The Good

Even more so than the first film, The Scorch Trials has some spectacular action set pieces and some amazing visual effects which are pretty exciting to watch. It is surprisingly jumpy in places as well, and there is great tension created in the unknown and the dark spaces which the heroes find themselves in. Unfortunately though, I feel the action does come at the expense of the storyline, but we’ll get to that later.

If you haven’t seen The Maze Runner, the first couple of minutes might leave you scratching your heads, but there is enough exposition at the beginning so you can just about pick up what is happening. As an action film as well, it is enjoyable enough if you haven’t seen the first film. Having made considerable changes from the book series, you don’t need to be a fan of these either to enjoy.

Adults needn’t be put off by the fact this is considered a “young adult” series either; it is pretty frightening in places which was unexpected if you’re expecting just another Hunger Games or Divergent. There are some scenes which could be taken straight out of a horror film which might catch the 12a/PG-13 audience off-guard a little bit, but will prove a welcome treat to the adult audience.

The Bad

Despite the great action sequences, unfortunately The Scorch Trials sometimes feels little more than just a string of action set pieces tied together with something vaguely resembling a plot. It does suffer slightly from the “difficult second album syndrome”. Where the first film can establish the characters and build the world, and the third is the climax and denouement of the storyline, the second film has to bridge that gap, providing enough answers to keep it interesting but enough intrigue to make you want to see the final installment. Unfortunately this film does little in terms of character building and plot development, meaning I struggled to stay invested enough in the storyline to find it interesting.

Character wise there is little development for the main characters, and the lack of real interaction they have between each other means that when some of them are killed off along the way, we don’t really see the effect it has on the ones who are left behind. They barely interact with each other aside from shouting “RUN” a lot and screaming each others names, meaning it is difficult for us as the audience to care as well.

The story is repetitive and uninteresting, and I feel like two hours later, we still don’t know much more than we did at the beginning. The Maze Runner was distinctly average, and The Scorch Trials is pretty poor, so this doesn’t bode well for the final installment; and the ending to this film did not leave me wanting more, but instead just willing for it to be over.

The Verdict

I saw this movie so you don’t have to. If you loved the first film, or if you’re a big fan of the book series, then you might enjoy this. However for the more casual viewer, there is little here to really make this worth seeing. Give it a miss, and maybe the final installment will be better. Maybe.

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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