"Maze Runner" was a very good film that seemed to come into our world a bit like "Mad Max" did. We didn't expect anything from "Mad Max" because no one ever really thought we'd see another "Mad Max" movie in our lifetimes. We sure didn't think it would hit the ground running and be a cinematic masterpiece but it was indeed all of those things. "Maze Runner" was similar. The books weren't as popular as say "Twilight", "Hunger Games" or even "Divergent". We didn't see the Maze coming. But for those who trotted out their 8 bucks they got a lot of return.
This is not the same for its sequel (and won't be for Mad Max either for that matter). We now have a foundation which to form our expectations from and they are high. Maze Runner blended mystery, action, romance, then added a sweet sauce of horror, and found brilliance on the screen. Thus, this became our expectation for "Scorch Trials."
The film opens almost exactly where we left off. The troupe of friends and survivors of the maze have defeated WCKD, or at least so it seems, and our ready to be back in the world. They find out that many other mazes exist and thus so do more survivors. Each day some of those survivors are picked to "Move on" and start their new lives while the rest stay back and wait their turn. I think it comes as no surprise that this is not the reality they live in and soon the characters we survived with in the first film are in need of some more survival.
If you want spoilers you can read a different article or of course the books which this writer still has yet to get to. So, let's talk about the film in and of itself, shall we?
The actors have grown and not just in age. In fact, unlike "Harry Potter" we aren't seeing people grow up over the course of many years. It is notable that the direction of the film really eliminates any moniker of time. Are they a year older, a month older, or has it been hours. Likely it is the latter when we first see them again, but time doesn't matter. Director Wes Ball really got everything out of the actors he had; they leave everything on the table.
Dylan O'Brien is especially gifted and with this film really cemented the role of Thomas. He brings life to the character that wasn't there before. He has really strengthened as an actor. He can do regular romance or even psychotropic pill induced romance while still being angry and hurt and alone. That is a pretty remarkable watch.
The other actor who really shines in this film plays Brenda (Rosa Salazar). She is opposite Dylan in a lot of scenes and they work really well together. It helps that she had the best words to work with. I can imagine a writer just simply knowing this character so well that her piece of the film just oozed on to the page easily, like butter steamin' off a hot biscuit.
The scenery is very reminiscent of "Insurgent" except that it also seems to require a little bit of "The Road" to carry it through. There is a scene where one of the characters is stepping on jaded glass that if broken, they fall to their certain death. Whomever built the structure of this scene has a brilliant eye. At no time did I not feel like I was inside the room with them thinking they might parish into the destructive sand and city below.
The music is so well written and placed incredibly well for spacing and movement of the film. The script is filled with cleverness and never sits outside its origin. The horror scenes are actual horror scenes. They aren't watered down for a PG-13 rating. They are in your face and gut wrenching.
One other thing that is of interest were some of the actors playing the secondary players in the film. Giancarlo Esposito, who many would know from the TV series "Revolution" plays a fine anti-hero of a man. Alan Tudyk (Firefly's Wash) doesn't have a lot of time in the film but what he does he plays with successfully. The standout secondary performer goes to the role of Mary played by Lili Taylor. She would likely spark your memory from roles in "Six Feet Under", "High Fidelity", "Public Enemies" and "Brooklyn's Finest". She is a doctor trying to cure a dying world but doing it in the exact opposite of WCKD, with integrity and grit.
This is a must see this year.