With no maze it loses di­rec­tion

SFX - - Contents - Dave Golder Thomas Brodie-Sang­ster, Ai­dan Gillen and Nathalie Em­manuel have all ap­peared in Game Of Thrones but never met film­ing it.

has the ya fran­chise lost its way sec­ond time around?

re­leased 1 Fe­bru­ary 2015 | 12 | blu-ray/dVd Di­rec­tor Wes ball Cast dy­lan O’brien, Kaya scode­lario, Thomas brodie-sang­ster, Pa­tri­cia Clark­son, Ki Hong lee, ai­dan Gillen

“I never thought I’d say this,” sighs Maze es­capee Minho at one point in The Scorch Trails, “but I really miss the Glade.” You may well agree.

The Maze Run­ner was an un­ex­pected de­light. One of a slew of The Hunger Games wannabes, it was sur­pris­ingly in­tel­li­gent, sassy and orig­i­nal. Three things set it apart from its teens-in-dystopia ilk: its set­ting, its cen­tral mystery and its char­ac­ters. It took place in a “Glade” en­closed by four, mas­sive, ed­i­fice-like walls, where a group of youths had to sur­vive. Ev­ery night, gates would open in the wall lead­ing to a vast maze be­yond. But would find­ing a way out of the maze be­fore the gates shut again – and mon­sters were un­leashed into it – lead to es­cape? All this added up to a vis­ually strik­ing film with some in­tel­li­gent, charis­matic char­ac­ters and ex­cit­ingly dif­fer­ent ac­tion scenes.

This se­quel ejects ev­ery­thing that marked out the first film from the crowd. The Gladers have es­caped the Maze into Generic Post-Apoc­a­lyp­tic World, where a virus is turn­ing hu­mans into zom­bies – here called Cranks – and evil sci­en­tists are har­vest­ing chil­dren as a means of find­ing a cure. Our he­roes start off in the clutches of the evil sci­en­tists, but es­cape as soon as they re­alise they’re des­tined to end up like the vic­tims in Michael Crichton’s Coma. From there on in it’s a trav­el­ogue of post-apoc­a­lyp­tic clichés: empty shop­ping malls filled with zom­bies, fallen sky­scrapers, deserts, moun­tain en­camp­ments, aban­doned ware­houses, more deserts, crum­bling bridges and even more deserts. They aim to join up with an anti-evil-sci­en­tists re­sis­tance move­ment (be­cause there’s al­ways a re­sis­tance move­ment) and they en­counter an odi­ous, drug-ad­dled child-traf­ficker along the way (be­cause there’s al­ways an… oh, hang on – maybe this is the one orig­i­nal bit in the movie).

The lead cast, who were so good in the first film, are given lit­tle to do here. Dy­lan O’Brien pre­vi­ously oozed charisma and cheeky charm as Thomas, the am­ne­siac teen who, on be­ing trans­ported to the Glade, shakes the lads al­ready there out of their gloomy ac­cep­tance of the sit­u­a­tion. Now Thomas is just a bore; a hu­mour­less hero, driven by the plot rather than driv­ing it, forced to frown like Mark Wahlberg in an M Night Shya­malan film be­cause the script is giv­ing him no idea what emo­tions he should be chan­nelling.

Ejects ev­ery­thing that marked out the first film

The rest of the gang pretty much fol­low him in look­ing vaguely wor­ried, or get killed. Oc­ca­sion­ally Thomas Brodie-Sang­ster is al­lowed a line that re­minds you he was the sar­cas­tic one in the first film, but that’s about as far as char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion goes. Worst served is Kaya Scode­lario as Teresa, who was all kinds of fun in the first film as a girl cyn­i­cally in­tro­duced into the Glade to stir things up, but is here rel­e­gated by a du­bi­ous plot twist to be­ing a mas­sive sulk.

Some new char­ac­ters are served slightly bet­ter, pre­sum­ably on the the ba­sis that as they’re new the writ­ers had bet­ter put some ef­fort into in­tro­duc­ing them. There are a few im­pres­sive post-apoc­a­lyp­tic vis­tas, a couple of de­cent ac­tion se­quences, and a hint of bro­mance. It’s all com­pe­tently put to­gether, well-acted and blandly watch­able. But for the most part, it’s de­press­ingly de­riv­a­tive.

Ex­tras The DVD fea­tures a com­men­tary by di­rec­tor Wes Ball, scriptwriter TS Nowlin, pro­ducer Joe Hartwick Jr and ed­i­tor Dan Zim­mer­man, plus 14 deleted and ex­tended scenes (17 min­utes), a gag reel and a gallery of con­cept art. The Blu-ray has all that plus “Se­crets Of The Scorch” (52 min­utes), a chop­pily-edited Making Of, com­pris­ing an MTV fea­turette-style mix of talk­ing heads sound­bites and be­hind-thescenes footage, bro­ken down into the usual top­ics: in­spi­ra­tion, the de­sign, the char­ac­ters, a break­down of a spe­cific scene (in this case the fallen sky­scraper chase). There’s also half an hour’s worth of FX-in-progress footage for var­i­ous scenes.

Car boot sales never fail to ex­cite.

We’re not sure, but this scene may in­volve CGI.

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