Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Review
Reviewed by Owen Bush.
A year ago, we saw another dystopian young adult novel franchise hit the movie business, The Maze Runner, of which I have only read the first. For me the movie took over the book in terms of entertainment and originality. It almost felt like The Maze Runner was always meant to become a film, because the book was both simply and oddly written. The movie far surpassed my expectations from the simmering sense of a lack of quality from its source material – and, whilst not perfect, thrilling and suitable action adventure, with even a little meaning and diversity within its cliched plot.
Possibly because my expectations grew a little, I went into the sequel hoping for a mediocre, some-what adventurous and rich 2 hour slumber, whilst this may be what I got, the 2 hour (and longer) film felt lacking on any ambition or thrill that its predecessor touched on. I ended up desperately searching for why so many scenes were kept, for the length of the flick, had a large effect on how climatic the ending was, and unfortunately, it was a rousing, and pretty intriguing ending, but I was almost yearning for the credits to (finally) start rolling in.
The Scorch Trials has some wonderful set locations, the cinematography is simply stunning and the very dramatically different set to the previous film in the series almost worked to counter-act the sense of this is a very new chapter in this 20th Century Fox saga. Story-wise, James Dashner and Wes Ball had a sense of achievement and accomplishment in the Maze Runner book and adaptation, and whilst I haven’t read the second book (due to the pale writing of the first), it almost felt like any meaning or character-building was hidden behind these lush and dazzling wallpapers that marooned throughout the movie. The Scorch Trials was almost like a gold iPhone, with no battery, memory, no apps, or any photos, just the iPhone – which is nice to look at, I guess, but the actual flesh that brings the phone together, is nothing more than something to observe, it all felt a little meaningless and catholic, rather than personal and like their were any connotations behind the motives made by the characters.
(Also, don’t judge, I have a gold iPhone.)
Let’s not be too critical here, this is an enjoyable and action-packed movie, there’s some really crucially intense moments that really did bring back the sort of anticipation and involvement that I had with the first. As I have previously mentioned, the ending did work brutally and tragically, however, because it takes SO long to come, it all feels a little empty. Now, I don’t know whether this is because James Dashner wrote The Scorch Trials in this very similar way, squishing many different shocking moments into a rather pitiful outcome, and if this is the case, then I’ll lay off the writers and directors a little, because if they were trying to be faithful to the original production – which, from what I’ve heard, this isn’t the case – but for the sake of argument, I’d forgive them for trying to keep honest to the book, attaching every element into a very long drivel of a movie.
However, even if this is, or isn’t the case, I do think that maybe it would’ve been the best thing to do to just get rid of unnecessary strands – did we really need a love triangle – it almost directly adds to the stereotype of YA movies, because many of them are actually coming from very well-written books – The 5th Wave is just one example. There’s some really juicy, maybe not meaty in meaning, but interesting and fun things happening here, but it all seems like nothing when the interest is falling – and my interest did fall by the final hour.
Again, like I said, not TOO critical, because I did enjoy The Scorch Trials – to say the least. Whilst the character development may have been a little non-existent compared to the previous teenage shenanigans in the first, the little that we get through comedic release really does work, I had myself giggling along at boyish tropes and friendly antics, but the substance and meaning just seems rather mute and uninspired.
For me, the darkened elements of the genre were those that shined brightest, Theresa’s betrayals seem rich and deep with evidence of whether or not we can trust the main-character, and this is where the movie almost roots into actual emotion, however, as previously mentioned, it’s all little too late, which is unfortunate, because Kaya Scodelario finally shows how incredible she is with a very bittersweet, dusky and compelling speech – if anything, watch the film for that very good moment, it’s just shameful it came so late.
The main problem with the movie is the pacing, and it is very frustrating to see another movie fall to that error, because as I keep saying, there’s some awesome moments, chilling in-fact, that just feel buried in a sea of minutes, moments that were artistically fun seem entirely pointless to the scope of the story, and therefore, make me realise how they had no giant need to keep that scene. Apart from the fact it may have been artistically fun, and so-forth, The Scorch Trials is ambitious for the directors, but doesn’t provide much for the audience – who, you know, are the ones paying ridiculous money to see it.
Verdict : 6.5/10
The Scorch Trials is a worthy entry of the Maze Runner franchise, but loses any sense of ambition or creativity that its predecessor briefly encountered. Whilst it does have some electric moments, they seem out-of-place in the full spectrum of this very long movie.