"Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" Review
While there is a serious lack of Mazes in this second instalment in The Maze Runner series, there is more than enough running to make sure the title still makes sense. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the sequel to the 2014 blockbuster film based on the successful teenage book series and it follows in the original film's footsteps with a fast pace and surprisingly mature action. The themes and story elements that make up the foundation of the series are very similar in fashion to The Hunger Games, another fictional series based on a future dystopia where adults have a strange obsession with torturing teenagers. That isn't a slight to Maze Runner, as The Hunger Games series obviously did something right to earn over a billion dollars at the box office and was a major factor in Jennifer Lawrence's sudden rise to star status. This leads me to point out that The Scorch Trials is not the most original film out there, although its ambition is admirable.
Similar to The Hunger Games, The Scorch Trials relies on its action sequences to keep the audience's attention, despite the depth of world the film creates actually being quite impressive. There is a large assortment of characters within the film, but this hurts it overall as many of the supporting characters are never fully fleshed out. The film's furious pace takes our hero Thomas, played by Dylan O'Brien, and his close allies out of the maze from the first film and thrusts them into location after location. They never seem to stay in an area for longer than 10 minutes, and while this helps the film stay fresh and maintains its pace, it also becomes repetitive and the story doesn't have much time to progress during the numerous chase scenes.
Sure, these chase scenes are usually pretty entertaining, but there always seems to be something new that our heroes have to run from, whether it be military soldiers, or infected humans that are essentially zombies. The zombies were probably the coolest twist in the movie. I didn't think the film would get so terrifying since I was expecting action primarily geared towards youth. Again, the film is not wildly original, and major similarities could be seen in these thriller sequences and other infection-filled stories such as The Last of Us and World War Z.
Story-wise, however, The Maze Runner series actually offers a pretty cool world and plot line. Its apocalyptic world is absolutely stunning, as we see things like an entire city buried under sand dunes and the background story has a lot to offer. That being said, the film spends too much time on the constant marathon that Thomas and his friends are running, to really delve deeper into what's happening around them. Instead, the audience is constantly subjected to new characters and new settings at a furious pace, which in turn slows down the story progression to a crawl.
In the end, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials offers breathtaking visuals and exciting chase scenes to make the film look great on the surface. Even the young actors bring solid performances to the big screen, but reflecting back there seems to be a lot left to be explored within the story and its vast collection of characters. The Scorch Trials had the chance to be a pretty great entry into the suddenly crowded "future teenage dystopia" genre, but its ambitious approach comes up short in regards to the story, despite building an impressive world around it.