MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS
With no maze it loses direction
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.