We're deep into 2015, a year where news about new and upcoming Young Adult movies are a dime-a-dozen. With the Hunger Games franchise ending this year, we have a bevy of new franchises to look forward to - all adaptations of our favorite book series. The Scorch Trials, The 5th Wave and Allegiant Part 1 are but a few of the movies we can look forward to this year alone, and with so many coming out, you're understandably thinking: What's so different about The Scorch Trials? What sets this Young Adult adaptation apart from every other Young Adult adaptation?
Well, my quizzical little Castiels, luckily for you, I am an all-seeing, all-knowing fangirl, with all the answers for you! Stay tuned to find out why The Scorch Trials isn't your average Young Adult adaptation, and why you should definitely be checking it out in theaters!
Badass Protagonists - Drive
Everybody in YA novels and movies wants to be a badass. They all want to be the hero, and, hey, these are worlds of magic and fantasy, so naturally they all want to look good doing it. Leather ensembles, kick-ass footwear, cool weapons and one-liners are all the craze, but not everyone gets granted that privilege.
Thomas... well, Thomas is a little different, folks. He doesn't get badass clothes and weapons. All he has is himself, and his drive to succeed. Like any character in absolutely anything ever, you have to have something you're working towards. A goal, if you will. Something you aim to achieve, either by the end of the book or by the end of the series. This is something Thomas and, let's say, Katniss from the Hunger Games franchise have in common. As a character, you have to have specific reasons for why you make the decisions that you do. Like taking down the Capitol - Katniss style. Or protecting an entire race of vampires and your BFF - Rose Hathaway style.
If you're acting without purpose, you're acting without meaning - and that's no fun at all.
A lot of characters in YA books/movies lack purpose. They exist and succeed in their endeavors because their authors/writers wanted them to.
Thomas on the other hand, is in an entirely different category. Though when we first meet him he is unaware of his surroundings or who he even is, he remains a strong character in that he immediately sets himself up to find the answers to his questions. He immediately finds purpose. Without that drive to find out who he is, where he is, and why he is there, Thomas is just a boy in the middle of nowhere with some other boys aaannnd we're all going to die of boredom.
He is shown to be brave and incredibly loyal even to a group of people he barely knows, risking his own life to save theirs almost immediately. He doesn't have part of the answer in front of him like others do...
No, with Thomas it's more...
"Hey....you're in here now and you could die. That's all."
And that is why Thomas sets himself apart from other protagonists. He's a badass, not because his author wanted him to be, not because he as a character even necessarily wanted to be, but because from the first damn day he's had to be. People aren't sitting down giving him prequel style spoilers to his own life so he can go forth and be a hero - he's actively finding them himself. His one main goal has always been survival above all else, and when you're fighting to survive, and not just to look or be cool, well, that kind of automatically puts you in a different category.
Love Interests - Stealing Time
YA Movies: Hey! Real quick! Can we stop the plotline for a second, stop all imminent dangers that were literally life threatening just a few seconds ago, so our protagonists can kiss?
This my friends, is what sets a lot of YA movies back. Just when the plotline is heating up, just when things are getting action-y, just when people's lives are in peril... BAM! Everything stops because our protagonists saw one another in slow-mo mid-action and have now decided to have a mini moment just for them. Just because.
Admittedly this GIF is from the movie If I Stay, and at this point in the movie, no one's life was actually in danger but you get my drift. Plot points stop and start when they please in the world of YA, so we can have moments like the one above to fangirl over for all eternity.
And sure, we secretly love them. They're kinda, sorta perfect, and if Clary and Jace hadn't fallen on top of one another in The Mortal Instruments movie and shared that look when they did, my life wouldn't be complete. If Bella hadn't stared Edward down for five hours before he introduced himself with a smile, I'd have thrown a temper tantrum. If Dimitri hadn't walked away from a fire he caused, and introduced himself to Rose, I literally would not be able to even.
But at some point we have to remember that narrative and plot points are what drive a story forward, not cute moments between characters. Those merely develop character, and if you have no plot for your fabulously developed characters...
As much as characters like Teresa or the amazing, and so much better, Brenda (#TEAMBRENDA) can be considered "love interests" for Thomas, you'll never see it stop the storyline. You'll never see it get in the way of survival, or stop him from finding out more about WCKD, or saving his friends. We're aware of the growing chemistry between characters as they get to know one another, but no one goes professing love dramatically to one another mid-battle. It's simply not practical, and The Maze Runner series is all about practicality. This is a world in which half, if not more, of the human population are dying or are already dead. A deadly virus is snatching up your loved ones quicker than character's deaths on Game of Thrones. There's simply no time for cute little romantic GIF moments.
So, while relationships are being forged, they're doing so naturally, in a way that feels real and normal, and not, "Hey these two 17-year-olds are totally already in love and willing to spend the rest of their lives together, because one smiled at the other and OH, MY GOD, LOOK AT MY PERFECT LITTLE BABIES."
Perfect Adaptation - Effort
Hey, Hollywood! We get it. Twilight, Harry Potter and Hunger Games were a roaring success, but that doesn't mean every YA adaptation to follow will be. Especially if you amplify certain aspects while ignoring others. The Mortal Instruments took Shadowhunters looking and being badass to a whole new level, with the entire cast kitted out in leather from head-to-toe. It had a budget of $60 million, half of which was poured into the CGI of the film. The other $30 million was poured into an intensive marketing campaign. None of which helped the substance and narrative of the movie, which was sadly lacking. The movie bombed, clawing back a little over half of that $60 million.
And the same can be said for Vampire Academy. Made on a significantly smaller budget, the studio tried so hard to make the film "different" from other YA adaptations that they ended up missing the point entirely. Amplifying the humour found in the series to terrifying level, and turning it into a terrible comedy, complete with bland characters and less than special effects.
With The Maze Runner movie, however, well this is where they shine. They've never tried to make this series something that it is not. It's a gritty series that deals with death, survival and sacrifice, and all of that is reflected in the films.
Sure, there were some changes. There are always changes, but they actually ended up working quite well in the first movie. With the second installment only a few days from release, we can expect some bigger changes in that plot points from the last book have been shifted up to the second movie, but despite this, it's never strayed from the core of the narrative.
And that's why I have faith in these films. Of course, I haven't seen The Scorch Trials yet. It could turn out to be a trainwreck (I highly doubt it), but with a cast as brilliant as the one this movie has, a director and writer willing to keep the core of the story evident in the films - there's not many places this movie can go wrong. Unless they did something ridiculous, like kill off a character that doesn't die in the books. But they'd never do that. They couldn't.
We wouldn't let them.
Yes we're all in this together and if all this hasn't yet convinced you to see The Scorch Trials, I have one final point for you.
Simply Put: It's a brilliant story.
The way the Flare Virus affects people giving them a more than haunted look in their vacant eyes, coupled with varying levels of insanity - is something that we've not really seen from a Young Adult movie. Not only is it "fresh" as far as YA Adaptations go, it's a gritty and realistic. We move completely away from clichés and predictability when we tune into movies like The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials. The YA formula that I've spoken about before really isn't something that applies to these films. They follow their own formula so that we're (hopefully) getting a bloody good action-packed adaptation that leaves us on the edges of our seats, eagerly awaiting the final movie.
The Scorch Trials, starring Dylan O'Brien as Thomas, Aiden Gillen as Rat-Man and more, premieres in the US on September 18th and in the UK on September 10th! If you haven't already, check out the first movie before you tune into the latest installment from the franchise, and always remember, folks...