John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Maze Runner: Scorch Trials Poster

Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

Genre: Action and Adventure

Director: Wes Ball

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Patricia Clarkson

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: September 18th, 2015

The 2014 Maze Runner was one in a long line of cinematic adaptations of young adult novels. It stood out in the crowded field — which included movies like The Hunger Games and The Giver — because of the mystery at the story’s core. Not only was the audience left in the dark about the maze that surrounded the main characters but the characters were too. When Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) woke up in the film’s opening moments, information pills he didn’t know who he was, cheap where he was going or what he was going to do when he arrived.

The audience didn’t either and part of the fun of that adventure story was learning the ropes of the Glade — the large field Thomas arrived in — alongside the main character.

That film ended with Thomas escaping the maze with his closest allies, only to be taken into another mysterious environment where he was surrounded by guards and political leaders who weren’t forthright with him. The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the second film in the series, attempts to answer some of the burning questions from its predecessor but the answers it offers up fail to live up to the excitement of the questions themselves.

The sequel, which begins moments after the events of the original, features Thomas and his team imprisoned under the secure eye of an organization led by Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson), a woman who has  taken a strong interest in Thomas. Separated from Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the lone female who was stuck in the Glade, Thomas begins to question the motivations of the officials that surround him. Aris (Jacob Lofland), a fellow captor, succeeds in convincing Thomas that their new world isn’t as beautiful as it seems.

Their quest for truth leads Thomas and his allies into the outside world where they are chased, targeted and hunted. Many of the same actors (such as Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee and Dexter Darden) reprise their roles here but in such a broader world, many of these integral players lose their importance as new characters take precedence. Theresa, for one, is seemingly offscreen for much of the feature as Thomas is partnered up with a new woman named Brenda (Rosa Salazar) for much of the film and many of the biggest action scenes.

So many of the unique aspects of The Maze Runner fall aside here as the sequel meanders from one chase scene to another and from one location to the next. Even when Thomas learns more about the flare — an illness that makes those infected go crazy —  the disease itself is less than interesting as it simply makes its victims out like zombies from a B movie.  Based off the novel by James Dashner (and adapted into a screenplay by T.S. Nowlin), this sequel seldom comes close to matching the original’s unique concept and imaginative story.

In the final act here, there are plenty of nail-biting scenes that raise the story up from its slow pace but nothing that happens in the final act can overcome the slight hour that proceeded it. Similarly to what happened on the show Lost, the answers that The Maze Runner sequels presented were bound to disappoint fans who were intrigued by the questions themselves. Still, this sequel is particularly disappointing considering how much potential existed here for an exciting second chapter.

The chapter continues the story but loses much of the intrigue that made the original stand out in a crowded field. This sequel gets lost in that crowded field and never fully finds its way out.

Review by: John Hanlon