ByJames McDonald, writer at
James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.
James McDonald

After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.

When I saw “The Maze Runner” in theaters in 2014, I had no idea what to expect. I hadn’t read the books that this movie series is based on and heard very little about the actual film itself. And sometimes, that is the best way to see a movie, by knowing very little about it in advance or nothing at all. I came out of the screening having thoroughly enjoyed myself and when I heard that a second movie was forthcoming, I wondered how they could improve upon the originality and delightful escapism the first film possessed. Well wonder no more because where “The Maze Runner” was equivalent to “Alien,” “[Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials](tag:1142567)” is synonymous with “Aliens.” The movie opens up within an action scene and never lets up for the film’s duration. Director Wes Ball has assembled a top-notch cast and produced a visually dazzling adventure, infused with wonderful moments of character development and story resolution.

The movie literally picks up where “The Maze Runner” ended. Thomas, Teresa and their friends have been rescued from the Maze by an unknown organization who claim they are trying to help them and proceeds to take them to an undisclosed facility in the desert. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his group quickly discover that they were not the only Maze, that there were many more built and they meet a boy from one of the other Mazes, Aris (Jacob Lofland). He and Thomas bond and together, they ascertain, early on, that Janson (Aidan Gillen), the man in charge, is actually working for W.C.K.D., the company that constructed the Maze and reports to its leader, Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson). The duo uncover that Ava has some rather heinous plans for the survivors of all the various Mazes and this prompts Thomas to gather his friends and along with Aris, they escape into the Scorch, an uninhabited terrain teeming with danger at every turn.

After barely surviving an electrical thunderstorm, the group takes refuge in a seemingly abandoned warehouse where they meet Brenda (Rosa Salazar), her leader Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and a ragtag band of survivors. Having heard rumors of an army in the mountains, a resistance of sorts, Thomas informs them that that is where they are heading but not believing them, they are tied up and held captive. Soon thereafter, W.C.K.D. arrives, shooting anyone they find with strict orders to bring Thomas back alive and it is at this point that Brenda and Jorge decide to take a chance and go with him. Along the way, they discover that, according to W.C.K.D., a deadly, terminal virus called the Flare, has affected much of the world’s population and forced them deep underground and turns those who become infected, into rage-filled, cannibalistic monsters but also that those who entered the Mazes, were immune to the virus.

The group eventually meets the resistance and while they are working on a plan of attack against W.C.K.D., Thomas is horrified to discover that one of the group, someone very close to him, has betrayed them all. Choppers fill the night sky and kill much of the resistance and by the movie’s end, Thomas and his fellow survivors, left for dead, band together for the final battle! A lot of the Young Adult novels that have been turned into movies over the past few years, “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent” and “The Mortal Instruments” to name but a few, have been enjoyable and entertaining but feel like they were intended for the same audience that the books were aimed at. “The Maze Runner” and “The Scorch Trials” feel more sophisticated and mature than their seemingly comparable counterparts, allowing the audience to become enveloped by the story and characters, echoing the movie’s commentary of teenagers going out into the big, bad world for the very first time.

Going into “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” I honestly had no idea on what to expect so in essence, my expectations were not very high but it wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm. On the contrary, the first movie’s finale was left wide open for the inevitable sequel and while I looked forward to Part 2, little did I know that it would take me to dizzying heights and in an instant, drop me just as quickly with every intent of catching me so I could ride this continuous emotional roller-coaster until the very end. Very Highly Recommended.

In theaters September 18th

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