<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Wes Ball. Starring Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Sangster, Kaya Scoderlario, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Jacob Lofland, Giancarlo Esposito, Dexter Darden, Rosa Salazar, Patricia Clarkson
Running Time: 2 hours 9 minutes
So what are they all about? Do we even care? Young adult fiction looks and feels the same. Lots of dystopian imagery, young kids being forced to kill each other or something else and the rebellious bunch who break loose and have to run away and fight and run… And then I don’t know what it really is all about.
I do know that I didn’t like the first The Maze Runner, that just seemed like an intro to the franchise. This second film in the series is better. Not because of its story or acting though. But because of the pace, the visuals and the scare factor.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his band of runners are out of the Maze now and have been ‘rescued’ from the evil WCKD (wicked) headed by Dr Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) who is searching for the mysterious formula in the blood of the ‘immunes’ that will rid the world of the ‘flare’ – a demonic virus that has turned the population of the world into zombies.
But in the military compound where lots of these immune young ones are enjoying clean clothes and food, something is awry. Very quickly Thomas and his merry men (plus a girl called Teresa played by Kaya Scodelario) find out it’s all just wicked! They run and encounter the zombies, cities that have been totally destroyed and dust-filled stretches of desert that separate them from a band of resistance fighters called the Right Arm. Very soon they’re found and they run again. You get the picture.
Along the way, there are some pretty scary and violent scenes, some interestingly shot action sequences – like the one where Thomas and badass babe Brenda (Rosa Salazar) are chased by the undead through a fallen building where everything is askew. Director Wes Ball has differentiated this rather mundane story in the treatment he has given the film along with some genuinely chilling scenes.
After a while, the whole running away and getting caught and then escaping again gets a bit monotonous and you realise that The Scorch Trials is just a filler for the finale where god only knows what secret is to be revealed. The problem with books (the films are based on) and films like this is that unless they’ve created an interest in what is to come by this point, they become worthless as trilogies. I wouldn’t care about going back and watching these films again. So what’s the point of it all?
At least if the repercussions of this blight on humanity had been explored more – like they’ve hinted at in the scene where a party filled with youngsters on hallucinogens are trying to forget the horrors – there would have been some depth to the story. As it is, The Maze Runner films will turn out to be only mildly entertaining but certainly scarier than some of the other young adult fiction films we’ve seen till date.