Movie Review: “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” – Tries to Find Its Spark

Written by Caitlin Cooper September 30, 2015

the scorch trials

Last year “The Maze Runner” drew in enough movie-goers to make over $32 million its opening weekend. A movie with that much hype and success should be good, right? Wrong. The sequel, called “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”, was released earlier this month and managed to pull in over $30 million its opening weekend. But you can imagine my doubts about the film. The first one didn’t blow me away, and didn’t have a memorable story to tell. So how does the sequel in the latest dystopian/post-apocalyptic film franchise measure up to such a disappointing beginning?

“The Scorch Trials” begins right where “The Maze Runner” ended: Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends made it out of the maze and are picked up by the army to take them somewhere safe. But unlike his friends, Thomas begins to question the suspicious behaviour of their rescuers. Kids like them are taken daily to a land free of the virus that has infected the majourity of the world’s population, or are they? When they land in trouble and escape to the now desert landscape of the U.S., they face obstacles they never knew existed and are forced to choose what they’re fighting for, and what side they’re on.

“Your new lives are about to begin.”

“The Scorch Trials” definitely ups the ante this time by having a somewhat complex plot. They escaped the maze, but those who helped them won’t let them roam freely in their new home, and interrogate them after they arrive. It’s amusing that Thomas is the only one who finds it suspicious that they’re always locked in their rooms and supervised by armed men. By amusing, I mean unrealistic. An element that did surprise me is the introduction of Cranks (because it’s too easy to call zombies ‘zombies’). It adds a post-apocalyptic touch to the film, and finally gives answers about what the virus actually is. The film is all over the place since it clearly wants to keep the action and suspense moving, but it isn’t until well into the film that it’s revealed there are rebels who used to work for WICKED, and that there’s a sanctuary. This gives the film a goal, something beyond the flimsy story the majourity of this franchise has given audiences so far. Also, it feels like some characters aren’t written consistently, or aren’t given the focus they should be for central figures.

the scorch trials

The big problem I have with this film series is that it throws logic and plot out the window for the sake of action. “The Scorch Trials” is an improvement, but the answers we’re finally given in this film about the virus that lead to the younger generation being put through tests like the maze in the first film really just make the first film seem like a waste of time. In fact, since the scientists in “The Scorch Trials” know that the kids who are immune are immune because of a particular enzyme in their blood there’s really no point to testing them in the maze. So what is the point of this film series? Well, like “The Maze Runner”, “The Scorch Trials” leaves it until the last 20 minutes to tell you what the point is. And, more specifically, in the last 10 minutes we’re finally given a clear objective or goal for the movie’s characters: to end WICKED, the corporation sacrificing kids in order to save themselves. It’s really too bad it took almost two movies to get to that point in the story.

“They’re never gonna stop, so I’m gonna stop them. I’m gonna end  WICKED.”

There’s nothing really wrong with the acting in “The Scorch Trials”, actually. O’Brien has proved he can handle being the lead of a film, despite having difficult material to work with. And he does more than just run and look confused in this movie, thankfully. Here, he’s angry and scared about the danger he and his friends face. There are a couple of additions to the cast, and they’re all talented. Aidan Gillen from “Game of Thrones” is a welcome addition since he’s good at playing a villain, but the character seems almost too similar to his “GoT” character.

the scorch trials

While “The Scorch Trials” is action-packed and gives us the answers and plot direction we should’ve gotten in the first film, it’s still not a great movie. It’s a lot better than “The Maze Runner” simply because it manages to be interesting and complex, but the plot is flimsy and logic is almost nowhere to be found. It feels like “The Maze Runner” and “The Scorch Trials” are two different film series’ because they’re that different. I don’t fault the acting, but I do fault the writing. I assume this series will continue to pull in audiences, so I sincerely hope the next movie improves enough to actually live up to the hype.

My Rating: 6.5/10

the scorch trials

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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