If you thought just because they’re out of the maze there wouldn’t be any more running, you’d be wrong! Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the follow-up to 2014’s surprisingly good film The Maze Runner. The first of the series had no right to be good, joining late in the game to the young-adult post-apocalyptic book adaptations genre, and yet it still managed to hold its own competing with, and beating in my opinion, similar titles such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials kicks off straight after the events of the previous films with the team of puzzle sprinters being rescued by an unknown team of heavily armed military personnel, and being taken to their facility for safety. From the start of the film the pace is relentless, in a positive way. The main character Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) begins to mistrust their supposed heroes and devises a method of escape. The scenes within the facility and the trickle of mistrust that leaks are incredible and will keep audiences entertained throughout.
The first third of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials will now be example of how best to conduct pace in a film alongside Mad Max: Fury Road. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials gets the pacing in this section spot on, it constantly moves two steps forward and then one back. This is the crux of all storytelling and is executed perfectly.
This great start only makes it more disappointing when they leave the facility. There is a borderline horror scene immediately after leaving where they encounter the Cranks (aka Zombies) which is good enough, but after that it becomes dull. This is an awkward situation for the writers I’m sure, as it is a necessary evil for the story to progress; the characters have to venture through the Scorched, the post-apocalyptic wasteland, in order to reach promised land. The issue I have is that it takes away from the great building of pace they had created during the first third.
Saying all this however, it isn’t necessarily boring, it’s just slow in comparison to the start. It gives the audience a chance to learn more about this world and does actually have a great, although brief, action scene within a diagonally planted building running away from Zombies (let’s call them what they are!).
Then we get to the final third, which without spoiling, is totally worth it. The pace returns and threats come at the main characters from all angles and the film almost returns to the spectacular rhythm established in the first third.
Pacing aside, the other good qualities of this film lays with the casting. Yes, you’ll struggle to remember the supporting cast from the previous film, but the new characters introduced all worked. Typically, when a film attempts to introduce many characters it falls flat, not in the case of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. What helps is that the actors cast for the new characters were are all from television, ranging from shows such as Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Firefly.
Having some great TV actors helped with the easy introductions. They all had immediate presence on-screen and you got where their characters where coming from from the get-go.
After watching the first Maze Runner, I felt lost and intrigued in a positive way; I wanted to know more and didn’t think they could ever deliver answers to the questions they had posed. I was wrong, all but one major question were answered and a million more questions cropped up. This is again great storytelling and kept me captivated and lost in the world they had created; I wanted to know more, I needed to! However, they did drop the ball with their subtlety with an unnecessary final scene. The film needed to stop one scene earlier and would be of topped it for me.
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