Three out of Five
“The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials” is better than its predecessor, but you would only care about the sequel if you saw the first film.
Maybe not even then.
Our band of teens in “The Maze Runner” had just managed to get out of the maze and be rescued when we last left them, or so it would seem. It turns out the cardio kids have walked from one danger into another and now have to face the world outside the maze.
That world would be what is known as “The Scorch” — the desolate, barren land of a world that’s largely been abandoned. The Scorch is also inhabited by “cranks,” who are not just grumpy people who are having a bad day, but your typical flesh-eating-due-to-zombie-virus apocalyptic population.
Because of the new terrors the film inflicts upon its teenage cast, the film is more exciting with more thrills, and sometimes just plain freaky. It also moves fast: We don’t have to wait for characters to sit around and figure out what’s going on. They quickly realize they are in danger, and run away as fast as possible.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that everything in this movie makes sense. If you haven’t seen “The Maze Runner” you will be so lost in “The Scorch Trials” that no GPS can save you. I’ve seen the original (although it’s been a while) and I was still confused. Sure, not everything needs to be explained in finite detail, but it would still be nice to know why we should care about the world we are seeing.
The bad guys constantly claim that “this is the only way,” but what that means isn’t explored. That also means that the stakes for the good guys aren’t clear either. What happens if they fail? Who knows?
However, the good guys — including Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), among others — are more likable than ever. The increased danger does make you care more about the characters and the trials they go through make you want them to win even more.
Best of all, “The Scorch Trials” adds a few new faces — Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) — who add some flavor and spice. These guys are a lot of fun to hang out with in zombie-infested deserts, mostly because they use a lot of firepower and explosives.
There are times where the acting falls flat in certain scenes or with certain characters, but as a whole the cast delivers. That is particularly true of O’Brien: Thomas is given more leadership and determination, which gives him more emotion that he portrays convincingly.
“The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is definitely better than “The Maze Runner,” with stronger characters, more action and a faster pace. The end does slow down a bit, but the story still should satisfy fans of the “teenagers caught in a screwed up society of world ending zombie virus” genre, but not much else. And, if you haven’t yet seen “The Maze Runner,” don’t even bother.