Cinematic Releases: Scorch Trials

How does the Maze Runner sequel stack up?

The original Maze Runner was a delightful surprise for me. Its mystery made for an intriguing watch that baited you along, minute by minute. The action and payoffs ramped perfectly and delivered in ways that proved potent while retaining a tantalizing feeling that there is so much more. It wasn't one of the best films that have come out recently, but it was better than expected and the story sticks with you after its final scene.

Scorch Trials does none of this.
"Guys! I found some gum!"

While this sequel is not a bad film, it's a lazy effort by just about all parties involved except our returning lead, Dylan O'Brien, who tries his best to make each moment count. His character, Thomas, goes through an engaging arc in Maze Runner as he convincingly struggles to find answers and come out a stronger person, yet by the end of Scorch Trials not only has the audience learned or gained nothing new from this franchise, nor has Thomas. The film's ending is so cheap that it all but rubs it in your face how useless the previous two hours of your time was. The story of Scorch Trials really should have been wrapped up in a textual prologue preceding a more useful film. Seriously, you're better off just reading a summary on Wikipedia than wasting your money on it. You'll likely get just as much from watching it, save for a mindless series of uninspired action scenes.

New characters are introduced just quickly enough to bridge the gap between set pieces of which there are far too many. Scorch Trials rolls all of its characters and half-baked story into a big tumbling boulder of loud, shaky, and forgettable action scenes. It tries far too hard to muscle its way into the realm of Transformers or Avengers, but isn't nearly as big, dumb, or fun, essentially losing all of its charm along the way. By the time the height of the third act arrives, you'll be so burnt out on the onslaught of bigger scenes before it, that its final, try-hard epic scene becomes anti-climactic by comparison.

Scorch Trials is both far too long and over too quickly. The studio made the classic Spider-man 3 mistake of introducing too many characters that get lost in too many set pieces. There's no time to care about anyone or anything. And when there is not time for that, the suspense and intrigue is rendered inert.
"Thomas! You just shot the 
character development!"

It's not horrible enough to be entertaining, unfortunately. It just feels dull. It didn't kick off too badly, retaining some of the Maze Runner formula that gave the series promise. I was immediately intrigued again, wanting to see what mysteries would unfold this time. What revelations would come from the seeds planted in the first film? Where would it take our characters? What did it all mean? It seemed, for part of its first act, anyway, that it was heading in that direction, but sadly took a mediocre turn for the obnoxiously forced summer blockbuster minus all the fun.

If you're a Maze Runner fan, it's likely you will get nothing from this, except Dylan O'Brien being pretty good and an oddly terrific performance by Alan Tudyk, whose character, like everyone and everything else in this film, is over before anything exciting can happen. Now that I mention it, Tudyk is by a long shot the best part of the entire film, and he's barely even in it.

I feel so dirty saying this, but I hope the mediocrity of Scorch Trials doesn't prevent the franchise from making enough money to green light a proper close to the unique concepts and execution of the original film. Fans, wait for Netflix or blu-ray release. Otherwise, stay away. Anyone else will just be bored and confused.


- J.G. Barnes

Like this review? Please share.
StumbleUpon Reddit Pinterest Facebook Twitter Addthis