It’s getting difficult to keep track of all the teenage dystopian films out there, and while everything’s becoming a slow, ragged blur, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials stands out as an engaging action adventure flick. Director Wes Ball takes us back to the world of Maze Runner, and while it’s very different from the Glades that we saw back in the first installment, the sequel brings with it some of the problems the first film had.
Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brien who has gotten infinitely better) and his rag-tag team of “immune” adolescents have escaped the Glade and have now landed up in what is called the Scorch, a ruined, post-apocalyptic world with a deadly virus that’s turning people into different kinds of zombies. So this is a huge shift: from giant bugs to creepy zombies, entire genres have been tilted, but the director seems to have a better handle on things this time around. They’re still being chased by the ridiculously named organisation WCKD, and we have the fantastic Game of Thrones actor Aidan Gillen, playing one of the antagonists, making things slightly more exciting.
There are more women in this film too, thankfully. There was an especially well-handled scene where Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) is changing far off in a dilapidated old mall, and when one of the boys turns to look, another turns his face away, and that was that. Ten years ago, we would have seen the two boys high-five each other, after taking a good long look. So well done.
There are a lot of thrills to be had, of course. Some of the chase scenes are near perfectly shot. The CGI is breathtaking and after a long time watching a movie in 3D has been a good experience. So when it comes to the technical stuff, whether it’s cinematography, editing and even lighting in some especially fast action scenes, things have been taken care of with much gusto and dedication.
But thrills or not, the film feels too derivative. Every second scene rang off all kinds of bells: Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Divergent and more. The pacing’s a bit off too. Some moments could have used a more patient eye. People die, the scenery changes at least four times , allegiances are exchanged, all in what seem like heartbeat moments.
All in all, an interesting film to watch this weekend from the lot that’s on offer. It would be definitely interesting to see how the trilogy ends next year.