I am curious and honestly thinking very hard here on how often the middle movie of a franchise with the concept of a trilogy being fully known is a solid film in it’s own right. I don’t think that Godfather was planned to be a trilogy, but if it was then you have Godfather II clearly. You of course have Empire Strikes back, which by the time it was made the trilogy was guaranteed. The Two Towers, naturally and I am sure there are a few others, but how many really? Granted I am talking there of some of the most iconic movies and books ever made, true greats. The Maze Runner doesn’t come to close to it, so I suppose it is not a fair comparison. Several of the last reviews of books to film adaptations have discussed the middle child before the final movie is split into two. By the way I have not heard an announcement of The Death Cure (the next book) being broken into two films.
So let’s get to the point – does The Scorch Trial survive itself?
The movie picks up literally right after the last one ends with the characters having escaped the Maze and being flown on helicopter to a base run by a man named Janson. Still on high alert Thomas and his friends leave the compound into the Scorch where even more risks and possibly salvation await them.
From a purely acting perspective, everyone gives it their all, when they are given the chance. Dylan O’Brien continues to shine and prove he is greater than Teen Wolf lets him be, though his fans know this already. He largely has to carry the film with way too many close ups, but covers a decent range of emotions and is at least interesting to watch. The rest of the survivors don’t get as much screen time as more characters must be introduced, though Ki Hong Lee as Minho continues to be the one we want to see more of. Giancarlo Esposito joins the cast as Jorge, who I just want more of as he lights up the screen. No one else really left me caring much, except a curious appearance by Alan Tudyk who I think was trying to impersonate Peter Stormare.
The weaknesses in the film can be pointed at a few sources, Wes Ball the director and T.S Nowlin the writer. Nowlin adapting the book to screen seemed to have missed a mark in making you care about the characters. They introduce people, but you don’t care and point in fact you want to throat punch most of them. Granted some of the inherent stupidity of the characters may be in the source material, but to have half conversations and the pronoun game should be avoided as it really just tends to annoy – especially when you have a lot of down time to deal with it. It’s dumb and the script is dumb for doing it. Yes it annoys me.
Wes Ball, who also directed the last, seems to not know what to do with the actors, or the story, or the editing. The actors do ok. The shots and cinematography are great. The art is solid. Production design really good. Yet with all of the background elements working for him, the movie just kinda drones on. I mean I know it’s called the Maze Runner, but how many times can you run from a threat? There is an entire beautiful sequence that serves no real point other than to make the cast run again. The film could have dealt with about fifteen or twenty minutes of time being cut.
Now, I have been bashing the movie pretty solidly. It’s an ok sequel. Again the shots are beautiful. The tension ramps nicely and let’s you down relatively well. You don’t know who is going to die or if someone is going to die. They did better with this one than many zombie movies do.
The Scorch Trials are over. I am thankful. I wanted to check my watch at the end. It has at least 3 false endings, just when you think it’s about to roll credits it goes on.
If you are a fan of the Maze Runner books or the last movie I can tell you to see this; otherwise give it a pass.
SPOILER CORNER – ROLL OVER TO READ
Seriously, I think I just watched a live action version of The Last of Us. The movie has zombie like creatures that move fast, have no eyes, and eventually die and have the plant inside them grow into vine like substances. I know Last of Us came out after the book, but the parallels in shots from the game and this movie are kinda ridiculous.
END SPOILER CORNER
In most cases I can honestly say that the movies from books follow the books and bring them to life; not in this case. These movies are a disappointment; the books were so much better. They may be short books but they explain so much more. I can honestly say that if you read – stick to the books, the movies do not tell the same story, not even close. And they do not do credit to the author who created characters that are strong and develop into people you like and can connect with. The book characters evolve into adults, the movies just don’t provide that growing option. And again, the movies are not really the same story; from what I have read the author allowed this to be the case. He shouldn’t have.
It’s a sad fact most authors lose creative control of the material once it gets purchased by a studio (poor Max Brooks). So for me it is interesting to hear that I should care about other characters besides Thomas and Minho.
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