Release Date: September 18, 2015
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: T.S. Nowlin (screenplay), James Dashner (novel)
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kay Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangs, Nathalie Emmanuel, Aidan Gillen, Katherine McNamara, Patricia Clarkson, Giancarlo Esposito, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Rosa Salazar, Jacob Lofland, Tatanka Means, Dexter Darden, Keith Jardine, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Jenny Gabrielle, Alexander Flores, Bryce Romero
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 131 minutes
Production Company: Gotham Group, TSG Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Who doesn’t love a good maze? I can’t imagine anyone not having fun with one, especially when human beings are thrown in the middle. Not knowing what to expect when the first Maze Runner film was released, I was excited to say the least. I didn’t know what was in store but went along for the ride. While being entertaining overall, I thought the conclusion raised more questions than it answered. It revealed that sequels were to follow this film. The first installment didn’t serve as a stand-alone—it ended up being a ninety minute trailer for the bigger story. Without a doubt, this sequel is stronger among the two films. Not only did it open up a whole new exciting universe, it also created a vast group of characters that I actually cared about. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a true blockbuster adventure. It’s exactly what a trip to the movies is supposed to be. I cared little while going into the film, and although, I am not a fan of the series, I can’t wait to see what the next chapter has in store.
Picking up right where the last film left off, the sequel offers the audience a bigger taste of the world that would follow. Slowly but surely, questions that weren’t answered during the finale of the first film, are unraveled, thus taking the story to an exciting stage. The way things unfolded made it a fun mystery. You don’t know if the world in front of your eyes is real or just another trick up the corporation’s sleeve. The guessing game of true and false is exhilarating and I enjoyed every moment of it. The story knows exactly where to focus, not once over staying its welcome. Once the first act is set, it magnifies into a whole new level, and even then it’s still only scratching the surface.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) has become a new man. Not only does his character evolve to new heights, his influence and leadership is passed on to others. He leads a team of those like him and their mission is to survive. I loved his character to the utmost degree. If there is a worldwide crisis, I want him on my side. He’s rough when necessary, but caring at the same time. It’s his humanity that you respect, and a requirement for any fruitful life in the future. The whole cast is great and they bond well together as a team. Every character is smart, using his or her brain at every point, which makes you get behind them. Writing is usually categorized with screenplays, always involving someone idiotic. Not this time around however. Every character is given a role of responsibility, and the character is never wasted in the longer runtime. Janson (Aidan Gillen) is a notable antagonist on the chess board, too. I’m not even sure he can be labeled as a villain, with his true motive never being revealed. He follows the ‘for the greater good’ approach, which could be correct, but also ties in with the mystery. Another great addition is Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito), who plays a comical leader. His presence surprised me, and brought on more positivity to the screen. The entire cast isn’t just black or white, but the script fleshes out the characters to portray their grey sides, too. It not too often that I enjoy every presence on screen, but this time be it good or evil, I appreciated.
This movie is like a buffet of greatness hitting every mark it aimed for. You would think this would be a CGI crap fest, but it’s actually the exact opposite. My jaw hit the floor during some of the visuals, especially during the scene with lightning bolts strafing the sky. The production scale was so big, that it told the story with no words. The desolate land is barren, but full of traps, danger, and excitement. I was mesmerized; I wanted to be a part of the world I witnessed, just to say that I could. This world is full of death but I still wanted to feel it. So much detail was put into every shot that it just brought the screen to life. The contrast was superb in addition to the non-stop action. It was like the perfect marriage that most studios can’t get right, but this time it was a match made in heaven. In scenes, when the characters are running for their lives, the cast really gave it all. The emotions they put out were enticing in every form. Their performances complimented the action the script required. It was a true joy to see. I wish I could have jumped into the screen to enjoy it more.
Despite nearly every scene delivering on multiple levels, the film still has its faults. The cast is great, the story is strong, and the action hits hard. However, during the slow scenes, the film becomes very slow. The dialog isn’t bad either, but doesn’t match what came before. At times, I felt bored, and wanted things pick up speed. Although, this didn’t happen too often, it was enough to notice. If the film is 131 minutes long, 15 of those didn’t do it for me. It just wasn’t as true as the rest, and stood out farther than it should. Also, with one or more films down the line, it can be hard knowing where to end. This film clearly messed that up, containing at least three endings, then teasing the credits. Quite a few times, I was satisfied with the outcome, thinking everything was wrapped up only to be tricked into learning that there were yet another 5 minutes of the film left.
On my way, I was speeding down the highway, and it’s safe to say that it was from the movie. I may be exaggerating a bit here, but this is the type of film that makes you want to leave the theater. I may have enjoyed it so much, because my expectations were low. I didn’t read the books, so I went into the film blind. It would be a shame if the movie had not paid any respect to the material, but even if it had not, I find it nearly impossible not to have a good time. At times, I was smiling from ear-to-ear like a kid who had his dream come true. I had so much fun with Scorch Trials that without a doubt I will be purchasing it on Blu-ray. It’s a fun, nearly nonstop action adventure that provides a manual on how this kind of movie should be made. It can be a little rough around the edges, but for a film of this genre, it stands tall at the top of the mountain.