[Maze Runner 2: The Scorch Trials](tag:1142567) is such a cool name for a movie, I'm tempted to just kick back and pass no further judgement on this series until the movie is released. Alas, that isn't my job, so let's break down some trailers!
The Maze Runner series strikes me as that little YA property that could. It has that neat subversion of flipping things around with a cast almost entirely made of boys, and while we certainly don't need a "more men!" attitude applied to our young peoples fiction, it provides a cool Lord of the Flies aura here. The trailer for Maze Runner 2 identifies solidly as a YA adaptation, right down to the original premise being rendered sort of irrelevant. So in what ways does this trailer expand the Maze Runner mythos?
"Welcome to the Scorch!" Hunger what?
Aidan Gillen saying the words "welcome to the Scorch" might be the coolest thing I've heard all year! Aidan Gillen, whose voice I now can't hear as anyone other than Littlefinger from Game of Thrones, seems to feature a lot in this trailer as Janson. He's part of the ambiguous organisation that may or may not have hostile intentions towards Dylan O'Brien and his friends. Just as with The Hunger Games, figures of adult authority are taken with a grain of salt, for a teen audience seems to enjoy adulthood being posited as dubious. So yeah! Don't trust adults! Even though most of the cast is well into their 20s.
The Scorch itself is an interesting concept. As a (so far unidentified) event that wiped out most life on earth, it's refreshing that it wasn't shoved in the audience's face right from the start. Maze Runner 2 seems set to be a genuine post-apocalypse in that it's about the characters discovering what's gone down, and not the audience having to read a block of text at the start.
"We weren't the only maze!"
This line from Ki Hong Li presents a paradox in YA fiction. While there is so much emphasis on the main character being special, and being a break from the norm that changes the world, there's just as much fascination with being a smaller part of a bigger system. Harry Potter did it, Hunger Games did it, even Twilight did it, and then undid it. Maze Runner is following suit, in that the characters are discovering that they weren't that special after all, only so they can prove that they're actually extra special!
Another similarity with Hunger Games is that the "maze" part of Maze Runner 2 is becoming increasingly obscure and irrelevant to the story. While The Hunger Games branched out into a wider story so much that they had to shoehorn in the actual "games", Maze Runner is opting for an entirely new challenge for our heroes. Namely, the Scorch trials, which at this point seems to simply be walking across a desert, because that's difficult I guess.
The Maze Runner needs to choose a direction that will either help it achieve it's goal, or get it lost in obscurity (which is exactly what you do in a maze, strangely enough). Moments at the end of the trailer about "light and darkness" barely interest me, and images that look like the characters efforts to fight back risk plunging the franchise into vague themes of rebellion that so many other YA stories share.
The Maze Runner 2: The Scorch Trials is released this fall, and any question of how much it will stray from the book will have to wait till then!