Main cast: Dylan O’Brien (Thomas), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt), Lee Ki Hong (Minho), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa Agnes), Rosa Salazar (Brenda), Jacob Lofland (Aris Jones), Dexter Darden (Frypan), Aidan Gillen (Janson), Giancarlo Esposito (Jorge), Barry Pepper (Vince), Lili Taylor (Mary Cooper), and Patricia Clarkson (Chancellor Ava Paige)
Director: Wes Ball
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a sequel to – duh – The Maze Runner. This one takes off immediately from where the previous movie ended, and therefore everything about it is a major spoiler of the previous movie. If you intend to watch that previous movie any time in the future, maybe you should postpone reading this review until a later date too. You’ve been warned! Oh, and incidentally, this one does include some of the major developments in the book of the same name by James Dashner, but it is also a very big departure from the books.
Anyway, in this one, Thomas and the rest of the Glader kids have been rescued from the Maze… or are they? In the previous movie, it was revealed at the final few minutes that the whole thing was a set-up by WCKD – the organization who want to test on these kids to find the cure for a zombie infestation-like plague affected the rest of the world called the Flare. You may be wondering – okay, put those kids in a maze, then fake-rescue them, isn’t that unnecessarily convoluted? Well, this is the second movie in the series, and all I can say is: just play along, don’t ask questions. Back to these kids, they are placed in a facility where every door is locked or heavily guarded by men with guns, so it’s not exactly genius for Thomas to quickly realize that something is wrong. On the bright side, they meet three new friends to fulfill their diversity quota again.
The kids eventually break out again – with such ease that I can only wonder whether WCKD is run by amateurs – and now they have to trek across the desert to look for Right Arm. Thomas and their new friend Aris overheard some folks talking about how Right Arm and his gang would break into WCKD facilities and rescue the kids inside, so they now hope to find that man, you see.
That’s basically the story, which all happens in the first 30 minutes. The rest of the movie basically see these kids going from Point A to Point B with explosions, near-death situations and such all popping up on a regular basis. The problem here is that every supposedly exciting moment is tired and formulaic, and many of them have been used so many times in previous horror, dystopian, or sci-fi movies that they are all as happening as watching the vacation reel of one’s grandparents for the dozenth time. The zombie-like creatures are nothing new, the twists and turns can be seen coming from a while away, and the kids all still look flawless and only a little smudged despite having traveled for a long time through a scorching desert. Wait, did I say flawless? Dylan O’Brien still looks like Ray Liotta’s aging face pasted on some younger man’s body, and the whole effect is still disconcerting. But he does have nice biceps, I’d give him that.
In this movie, the kids don’t have much to do other than to pout and leave the dirty work to their stunt doubles. Mr O’Brien, especially, only has to sport the same facial expression for any situation, the same expression for surly as well as stoned. On the bright side, they seem to be in the process of replacing that annoying Bella-lookalike girl with someone who is a far more interesting character as the love interest for Thomas. Then again, the characters here are all flat as a plank, so who cares at the end of the day.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is thin on plot and excitement, and is played by a cast who is even more zombie-like this time around. I’d suggest renting this one, and even then, only if there is nothing else more interesting to watch. There is a very strong “I got this from other movies!” vibe to everything about it here, so everyone is better off watching those movies. For instance, whatever this one can do, Mad Max: Fury Road does it a million times better. So why watch this one instead of the other one?