The Gladers return for a second adventure in the sophomore intallment of The Maze Runner series, aptly titled The Scorch Trials. This time around, they must face and escape The Scorch while trying to find clues about the WCKD, the organisation set on capturing them.
Familiar faces make their way back to the screen, most notably Dylan O’Brien, star and lead of the franchise, Kaya Scodelario, his love interest, and fellow Gladers Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Ki Hong Lee. This time around, the cast is joined by newcommers Jacob Lofland, Giancarlo Esposito, and Rosa Salazar.
Before I review the film, I’d just like to point out that I haven’t read the books, so my reviews are strictly based on the narrative of the movie. Much like its first installment, there were things I enjoyed about the film, and others I did not.
On the level of acting, O’Brien does a fine job. It is widely known that the movie series diverges from the book, as do the characters and story arcs. I don’t know what Thomas — O’Brien‘s character — is like in the book series, but here, the role offers him space to emotionally explore his character, and the actor does it justice with a believable and leading performance.
Such is also the case with Scodelario‘s Theresa. The actress brings depth and heartache to her conflicted character, but fails to make her very likable. That, of course, goes back to the writing, but the performance lacks the necessary conviction to bridge the gap between her and the viewer.
The visuals had their perks this time around. As a fellow journalist pointed out, the film looked like a video game — an incredibly enticing one. And whether that’s a bad thing or a good thing is up for debate. One thing that can be agreed upon, however, is that the action sequences are never boring.
But that’s exactly the problem with The Scorch Trials. All this installment seems to offer is thrilling action sequences. In terms of content, it’s a weak bridge between its predecessor and the closing installment coming in 2017. As a viewer, all you have is a few more questions and close to no answers to your questions from the first film. It doesn’t give you anything substantial to latch on to. One of the bigger revelations (for lack of a better term) is quite obvious is one pieces together the clues and te flashbacks. It’s nothing new.
The film almost focuses more on its subplots than it does on its central premise. It almost feels like the film was structured around its action sequences, and those were garnished with subplots here and there. That probably goes back to the adaptation. From what I know, the book series is quite different from the first two films (of course, they maintain the central plot). In that context, staying faithful to the source material might have been in favour of a better movie.
The camera work is somewhat sloppy. The constant moving around of the camera with no fixed angle was a bit distracting. Granted, there were some beautiful shots in there, complimented by good focalisation, but the film’s camera direction as a whole is otherwise average.
As is the case with most of these sorts of movies, and that’s a shame because they truly do have to potential to be great, the film had a mediocre script that relied on wholly unfunny jokes and uninteresting dialogue. It’s lackluster at best.
Would I recommend the movie? Not unless you’re planning on finishing the series. The film doesn’t bore all that much thanks its well-positioned action sequences, but the lack of narrative substance is the film’s ultimate downfall. Somewhere along the line, your interest feigns. With the final installment coming in 2017, I must say I anticipate it with a little less excitement.
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