The Scorch Trials review: A good-looking, fast-paced sequel to Maze Runner

Mihir Fadnavis

Sep 25, 2015 12:07:19 IST

It’s business as usual at Hollywood – another Young Adult dystopian futuristic sci fi adaptation sequel, another sure shot success at the box office. With this genre being ubiquitous at this point of time one wonders why there weren’t any movies like these back in the 90’s when we were kids. Of course back in the 90’s Hollywood was obsessed with dinosaurs but that’s another story.

So here we have the second installment of the Maze Runner franchise, titled The Scorch Trials, based on the books by James Dashner. The Maze Runner was a surprisingly watchable addition to the YA glut – unlike City of Bones and the Divergent films it actually had breathless pacing, a mysterious plot and excellent special effects that kept one fairly interested in the film. It didn’t have the acting prowess of Jennifer Lawrence from the Hunger Games series but young Dylan O’Brien and his pals were passably likable and also believable.

If you haven’t watched the first Maze Runner, it would be difficult for you to understand what happens in Scorch Trials. This time Thomas (O’Brien) and his pals who survived the first film (Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and gang) are put into a safe haven by a military organization called WCKD. Soon enough the kids realize that the acronym sounds like WICKED and that they’re test subjects for some horrific scientific experiment to extract genes and find a cure to the apocalypse outside. They make a run for it, escaping to the apocalyptic world outside full of zombies, while being chased by machine gun trotting WCKD soldiers.

 The Scorch Trials review: A good-looking, fast-paced sequel to Maze Runner

Still from Scorch Trails. Image from Facebook.

The Scorch Trials slavishly follows the checklist of things ‘part 2’ of a YA dystopian sci fi does – pumping in more action, increasing the budget in obvious ways and revealing the central mystery of the universe it has created. While those updates don’t make this a better movie than the previous installment, it’s still a much more interesting film than its YA peers.

Returning director Wes Ball doesn’t waste time brooding – this is a non stop sprint from start to finish, as our heroes run around dodging bullets, slide through closing doors dodging bullets, jump into cavernous areas dodging bullets and fight off zombies dodging bullets. There’s hardly any time for you to realize how inconsistent the plot is.

Much like its YA counterparts The Scorch Trials fails to build up on the original film. There is no Maze Running in this film, so if you thought that was the most interesting aspect of the first movie, you’ll feel let down. The ‘Scorch’ turns out to be a name for something extremely generic and predictable, so if the name entices you, prepare to be disappointed.

The villains are as cookie cutter as they come, attired in dystopian futuristic military clothes, sneering with malice with much disregard to children’s feelings, and mouthing dialogue that tells the audience they do what they do for the greater good, and that the children as simply collateral damage in the grander scheme of things. Aidan Gillen from Game of Thrones in the chief bad guy in this case, and though he is a recognizable face he doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

Fortunately the film is good looking, again unlike its counterparts. The shots of the city covered in desert sand, and the interiors of the military compound are gorgeous. It’s kind of amazing the filmmakers managed to crank out a sequel of this scale, that looks so good in under a year’s time. It seems they learned their lesson from Insurgent, which did the same thing was an ugly and tedious disaster. This film doesn’t provoke any adult discussion about ethics and morality in a dystopian world, ultimately it’s just a thrill ride for kids, and on that front it works fairly well.

Updated Date: Sep 25, 2015 12:29:24 IST