#REVIEW: “MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
After escaping the maze and being rescued, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the rest of the Gladers end up in a military base run by a group called W.C.K.D. (pronounced wicked). Thomas discovers some horrific truths, and manages to break free with the Gladers into the scorch. But their problems are just beginning.
The Maze Runner was an intriguing take on Lord of the Flies, with a bit of sci-fi and zombie film tropes added in. It was entertaining enough, but did its best to stand out amongst a sea of YA dystopian fantasy book-turned-film adaptations. But what little uniqueness that film had, seems to have been taken away entirely for The Scorch Trials. Every detail here seems to have been cribbed from something before it (including a needless love triangle), and the film is too caught up in its idea of being a chase film to stop and actually pay attention to any original ideas it does have. And if you thought the first film was mysterious, then the sequel is going to aggravate you even more. Everyone seems to have an agenda, and everyone seems to have some sort of secret past the film only hints on. Director Wes Ball seems content letting these questions rack up, to the point that the film never seems to want to end.
And when it finally does, it opens up even more questions.
What Scorch Trials does do well is breathless and thrilling actions sequences. Ball seems very adept at making these chase and battle scenes pop, each one seemingly topping the next. They feel a bit too chaotic in some instances, but they really set themselves apart from other young adult films for how brutal they quickly become. Ball is really keen on pushing his rating to the limit of what’s acceptable for these kind of films, and I can respect that. I imagine some of these scenes would look spectacular in 3D, but they still end up looking quite terrific without it.
Acting wise, the kids (especially O’Brien) settle into their roles with ease and are even more compelling than they were in the first film. They still have a bit of work ahead of them, but are nowhere near as awkward as actors in other YA films. But they are all shown up by the new players entering into the series. Aidan Gillen (best known for his work on Game of Thrones) is a terrific antagonist, and Giancarlo Esposito (from Breaking Bad) steals the show entirely as freedom fighter Jorge. Every time either of them show up, the screen practically sizzles from how great they are and how much fun they seem to be having.
The action and supporting performances are what really succeed in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. At 131-minutes, the film runs a bit too long and packs in way too much unnecessary mystery, but it still manages to be quite enjoyable. Just go in knowing you have to wait until Maze Runner 3 for a proper conclusion.
20th Century Fox Canada release THE SCORCH TRIALS Friday, September 18, 2015.