By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C+ (2 ½ stars)
20TH CENTURY FOX
Last year, a film adaptation of James Dashner’s young adult sci-fi novel, The Maze Runner was released. Pretty much any young adult novel can be adapted into a film these days, while I was familiar with Harry Potter and Twilight (PS: No I never read a Twilight book and I don’t plan to!) before they had film adaptations, like The Hunger Games and Divergent, I had pretty much no background information on The Maze Runner books, so I came into the movie to judge it as a film, rather than as an adaptation of a book, and I thought it was a decent movie.
The Maze Runner movie was nothing that spectacular, but I liked the creativity of the Maze set and the designs of the deadly creatures out to kill the protagonists, the plot was a mixed bag though. A lot of the movie felt like a combination of The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies and I’m sure I’m not the only person to make that judgment, but it kept me entertained and I wanted to know what was going to happen to the main characters after they escaped the Maze, then again I was spoiled by better 2014 film releases like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy.
So after I saw it, I never really spoke about it after my review, and I didn’t know what to expect with a Maze Runner sequel. In comes Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, based on Dashner’s second book in his Maze Runner series, which like the first film, I didn’t read the book prior to this, so I will be judging it as a movie again.
Dylan O’Brien (MTV’s Teen Wolf), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Nanny McPhee, Phineas and Ferb, Game of Thrones), Ki Hong Lee (The Nine Lives of Chloe King, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Kaya Schodelario (Clash of the Titans, Skins), Alexander Flores (The Wackness, Rescue Me), and Dexter Darden (Joyful Noise) all reprise their roles from the first film. And like in the first movie, they still do a decent job portraying their characters, they’re not Harry Potter or Hunger Games characters, but they’re certainly better than the bland and dull lifeless Twilight character puppets.
Shortly after escaping the Maze, Thomas (O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers are about to face their greatest challenge yet, searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization named WCKD that may be the ones responsible for putting them in the Maze in the first place. But first they must escape a facility run by Mr. Janson (Aidan Gillen-Shanghai Knights, Calvary, Game of Thrones) of the WCKD organization who has been experimenting on the kids and teenagers they keep there.
Once they escape the facility, they end up in a desolate landscape known as the Scorch filled with unimaginable obstacles and zombies (Yes, zombies!) to destroy Thomas and the Gladers. Upon making it into the Scorch, the Gladers team up with resistance fighters who want to put an end to WCKD for good, so they take on their superior forces and possibly uncover the secret plan WCKD has planned for them all.
Overall, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials didn’t leave much of an impression with me, much like its predecessor, but it’s not terrible and I’m relieved that it wasn’t bad in the end, especially after viewings of Seventh Son, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fantastic Four, Hitman: Agent 47, and The Transporter: Refueled. The characters are portrayed decently, the action is a lot of fun, and some of the twists and surprises can be suspenseful.
However, my biggest issue is a lot of the plot elements, mainly the undead zombies in the Scorch, perhaps it makes more sense in the book, but here, it feels like they belong in a completely different movie, literally when they showed up I kept saying to myself “I thought I was watching Maze Runner, when did this become Resident Evil?” but don’t worry, it’s not as bad as that franchise.
Other problems I have with the film is that the story feels like it’s very far away from The Maze Runner, I didn’t know what to expect but I was expecting the film to hit familiar territories with the first movie, seems like it jumped the shark. I had to remind myself that I was watching a Maze Runner movie half the time.
But with that said, if you enjoyed the first movie and want to see how the story continues, you shouldn’t be disappointed. However if you were disappointed or underwhelmed by it, we got a third movie on the way in 2017, so hopefully it’ll be better and hopefully the story will start making sense, but I’m pretty much expecting a Hunger Games: Mockingjay style ending with this series, we’ll just have to wait and see.