In the recent years, there have been so many young-adult films that it’s become seemingly impossible to differentiate all of them, especially considering the fact that most of the plots seem to be predictable combinations of several other movies. The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials is the latest addition to the list: based on a book trilogy, aimed at a teenage audience and packed with every possible cliché from films of the same genre in the last decade.
After managing to escape from the maze at the end of the first film, Thomas and his fellow Gladers discover that the only thing waiting for them at the end of the tunnel (yes pun very much intended for this cliché plot) is a ravaged world endangered by a lethal virus.
They end up in a bunker where they are clothed, fed and informed that they will finally be safe. But after the initial relief, the group discovers they are still in danger from W.C.K.D., the government organization that held them captive in the maze in the first installment. They must fight their way through what is called a Scorch, a ruined landscape overflowing with danger, risk and, yup, you guessed it, zombies.
While the premise of the film is interesting in theory and it’s refreshing that they’ve replaced the usual heroine with a man, the film still fails to be original enough. After the predictability of the first film, to check off the “been there, done that” list further, they are simultaneously hunted by both a dubious organization and a bunch of post-apocalyptic zombies.
Essentially, if Divergent and World War Z had a lovechild, this movie would be it. The only cliché missing is a love triangle and a friend that ends up betraying the group, but hey, there’s still time.
In the first film, they borrowed the cool color palette from Twilight, giant spiders from Harry Potter and had a maze that was clearly inspired by the arena from The Hunger Games. This time around, they’ve ditched the running through a maze concept and replaced it by endless running through a dystopian world in the hopes of finding a group of rebels concept. These rebels are supposed to provide them with answers about the organization that is hunting them down.
On the plus side, the movie keeps up a fast pace from the get-go. Unfortunately, after a good hour of watching what basically boils down to slaying zombies, running and a lot of yelled, yet uplifting phrases, you sort of stop caring.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is certainly more action-packed than the first film and has great CGI effects, but somehow, it still can’t manage to emotionally engage you. This is largely due to the fact that it’s so predictable. Do we really believe that the main character will die, especially since there is at least one more movie to be made (or possibly even two, you know how they milk series for all they’re worth these days)?
Dylan O’Brien, whom you might know as the charming “Stiles” Stilinski from MTV’s Teen Wolf, returns as Thomas, the main character of the series. His comrades reprise their respective roles and some new characters are also introduced, most notably Aiden Gillen (because you can never have too many actors from Game of Thrones, right?) as a new villain, Janson. The cast gives solid performances and makes up for the thin plot and a lack of complexity for these characters, at least to a certain degree.
Aesthetically, the film looks great and is definitely more interesting than the first one. However, it still has discrepancies, lacks an explanation for the existence of the maze and torturing these young individuals, and is essentially just a recycled version of brighter and innovative ideas from better storytellers. If you are a teenager who will admire the heroism of the good guys, relate to the idea that adults basically can’t be trusted and doesn’t mind that the plot makes no sense, you will thoroughly enjoy this film. If not, you might want to skip this and move onto something with a little more depth.
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