When we all got out of seeing The Maze Runner late last year, there was one question swirling around everybody's mind. "What the fuck was up with that ending?" The film, which was hit and miss up until that point, ended on a completely disappointing note, trying to have a cliffhanger, but not really getting the audiences hyped for a second installment. It was a failed ending that made no sense whatsoever. So of course I'm sure you're all curious about seeing The Scorch Trials as it will finally provide us with some answers, right? Wrong. I still don't know what the hell is happening in this trilogy and to be honest, I don't think the filmmakers know what's going on either.
The Scorch Trials picks up immediately after the events of the first film. Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and the rest of the gladers have been rescued from the maze. They're taken in a helicopter to a large and very secure base. It's here they meet Janson (Aidan Gillen), the man who claims he's responsible for rescuing them. He provides them with food, water, beds and showers, putting them in with other maze survivors. But Thomas is suspicious. Breaking out of his room and exploring the vents, Thomas' suspicions are proven true. He hatches up a plan to escape, and the other gladers come along too. Leaving the "safety" of the facility, they're forced out into the scorch, where plenty of other dangers await, and even a little mystery.
The Scorch Trials does something a lot of other young adult franchises don't dare to do. It breaks free from the original film. Instead of being trapped in this world of the maze, the film decides to pace forward. In fact, it rushes forward, steaming through plotlines and zooming past twists. It does something different, furthering the story forward, and while that does create several problems, it also creates some credibility. You can see most of it a mile away, and the things you can't are just plain stupid, but it doesn't hold itself back to being about a maze. It plays around with new ideas.
That being said, there never is any closure on what actually went on in the first film. The last thing we saw was the villainous Ava (Patricia Clarkson) revealing the maze was just the beginning and that phase 2 was currently underway. Does this get explained in any further detail? Absolutely not. There are minor comments on the future of these kid's lives and why they were saved, but nothing I would go so far as to say is a revelation. It's just reassurances of what we already know. What was the point of the maze? Why was that phase 1? Phase 2 can't be just blood tests can it? Is that seriously it? I have absolutely no idea.
What must be complimented, however, are the performances. Well, most of them, anyway. In the first film they were a bit all over the place, but the second time around seems to have gotten everyone a bit more balanced out. Dylan O'Brien is still a great choice for Thomas, as is Thomas Brodie-Sangster in the role of Newt, even if he's only given about five lines total, all of which are exposition. The newer additions, which is essentially the entire adult cast, are even better, Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillen is easily the best thing about this movie, but his character is also painfully underused.
That's the thing about this movie, too. Nobody gets enough screen time, with the exception of Thomas, our main character. Kaya Scodelario, who plays Teresa, gets about six minutes of screen time, most of which is her staring off dramatically at something. No matter what I said about her acting in the first film, she's an interesting character, and even more so here. It's not until the third act that her character does anything, and the one thing she does felt extremely out of character. It just comes out of nowhere, simply put in there to have an explosive finale before a cliffhanger you can see a mile off.
While the first Maze Runner was written by three different people, The Scorch Trials was written by just one, and clearly this person wasn't the one in charge of writing dialogue last time. All the dialogue written for this movie is either cringe worthy or trailer worthy. There is no in-between. The good lines, and this happens very rarely, were all used as promotional material, whereas the rest of the dialogue was left protected. And for good reason. Characters are constantly narrating their actions or recounting the events that literally just happened. It's corny, and while the deliveries almost make it watchable, it's still so very dumb.
One of the major plots from this movie revolves around this disease that turns people into what I can safely say are some sort of zombie. Think Last of Us meets World War Z. Yeah, you're pretty much screwed if one comes close. Like most of the film, they're in it without explanation or cause, but they do make for some fun moments. There's a rather tense scene about halfway through that involves a chase between two lead characters and a whole hoard of these creatures, ending with a very Lost World: Jurassic Park moment. It's scenes like this that are rather entertaining to watch. Not scenes where Thomas takes some sort of drugged alcohol and goes clubbing with Alan Tudyk from Firefly.... because that happens.
To sum up, The Scorch Trials is just as mediocre as the first Maze Runner. It goes from fun to corny within the blink of an eye and it makes no apologies for anything. If you liked the first, good on you. I have no doubt you'll love this one. They're just surprisingly not for me.
2 1/2 Stars