When I watched the first “Maze Runner” movie, I was generally pleased by how director Wes Ball was able to bring some of the key moments from James Dashner’s novel series of the same name to the big screen. Until now, I am still reeling over the unexpected twist at the end of the film.
Now, the ending of its new sequel, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials“, too, has left me speechless. Though I was slightly confused, the film ultimately made me feel somewhat glad that it delivers an engaging plot and solid chase scenes.
“The Scorch Trials” picks up where the first film left off, as the opening sequences show Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brien) and the surviving Gladers being rescued by a mysterious organisation after escaping from the Glade and the Maze created by WCKD.
But of course, anyone who cares enough to read the original novel series would know that they have merely been led into another trap. Thomas and the gang are being taken to a confined compound where they meet other runners who have escaped form their own mazes.
However, as the de facto leader of the surviving Gladers, Thomas couldn’t ignore his gut instincts the moment he stepped into the compound. Though it is no longer filled with the terrifying Grievers in the first film, his gut feelings are telling him that this organisation is not as nice as Janson told them to be.
If anything, it just seems to him that this organisation has their own agenda and they wouldn’t allow anyone to question it. As a result, he convinces his group to escape from the fiendish facility instead of being held captive by the mysterious organisation.
The maze and the compound may be claustrophobia-inducing, but the world out there isn’t all that perfect either. It’s basically a hopeless wasteland where Thomas and the surviving Gladers find themselves exposing to the harsh weather in a horribly barren landscape known as the Scorch.
Ball’s depiction of the Scorch is almost similar to what Dashner has envisioned. The solar flares ravaged the planet, leaving a burnt landscape with charred skyscrapers in the abandoned cities. There were no signs of life in these cities, though some showed signs of civil use.
Regardless, it’s nearly impossible for Thomas and his gang to survive because they might die from thirst or turn into one of those terrifying zombie-like humans known as the “Cranks”. Even if they weren’t going to die in those situations, they risk getting captured by the WCKD again.
Thus, the keyword in “The Scorch Trials” is hope.
Hope is such a dangerous thing. However, none of the characters in the film showed a sense of hopelessness. Thomas isn’t the most reliable leader, but his fellow Gladers see him as a token to the safe haven while Thomas relies on his gut instincts and hope to search for “The Right Arm”, a mythical resistance group which might be able to save them.
What Ball does to the film shows that the smallest hope can strengthen a man, but it can also drive a man insane when the hope is false.
Much like this year’s critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic film “Mad Max: Fury Road“, this sequel is almost like a compilation of intense and visually striking chase scenes. There was just an awful lot of running, as the characters are constantly running either from the Cranks or the WCKD. At one point, Thomas even tells Minho (played Ki Hong Lee) that “he’s tired of running”.
The result was astonishing though. One of the best chase scenes I’ve enjoyed seeing in this film was when Thomas and Brenda (played by Rosa Salazar) were attempting to escape from the Cranks through some collapsed buildings.
With a slightly higher budget for “The Scorch Trials”, the tone and the presentation in this film are noticeably different to the first film. The actors seem more comfortable with their characters too, as their acting seem more natural and non-exaggerated. Though they have relatively few lines of dialogue, their characters are believable.
Besides Aidan Gillen and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (who played Newt), “Game of Thrones” fans will spot another familiar face in this film too. Nathalie Emmanuel, who played Missandei in “Game of Thrones”, managed to deliver a solid performance through her role as Harriet.
Put simply, there are plenty of hits and misses in “Maze Runer: The Scorch Trials”. However, the improved visuals and engaging storyline got us excited about its upcoming threequel in 2017.
Since the movie isn’t following closely to the original story in Dashner’s book, I can’t help but wonder what fate awaits the remaining characters in the film.
“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” also stars Kaya Scodelario, Jacob Lofland, Lili Taylor, Vince Pepper, and Patrica Clarkson. It is scheduled for release on 10th September 2015.