Less di­rec­tion out of the maze

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

An in­ter­est­ing tale fraught with dan­ger and full of twists and turns, The Maze Run­ner was one of last year’s most pleas­ant sur­prises.

At the end of my re­view of the young adult (YA) sci-fi crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial hit, I wrote that I couldn’t “wait to see what hap­pens next”.

Well, here we are with the quickly turned around adap­ta­tion of the sec­ond in James Dash­ner’s tril­ogy of nov­els which sees Thomas (Dy­lan O’Brien) and the rest of the Gladers move out of the maze into a new se­ries of chal­lenges in a des­o­late land­scape.

Un­like its YA cousins The Hunger Games and Di­ver­gent’s sec­ond in­stal­ments, there’s no rest­ing on any lau­rels with a vir­tual re­tread; re­turn­ing di­rec­tor Wes Ball has a brand new, spa­cious play­ground to work with.

And he makes the most of the up­grade by film­ing a taste of hell on earth in an apoc­a­lyp­tic waste­land that even Mad Max would strug­gle to live through.

Sandy sur­faces, bro­ken sky­scrapers and so­lar flares threat­en­ing from above en­sure that even though our young he­roes have es­caped the maze, the threat to their safety is no less ter­ri­fy­ing.

Tap­ping into the re­cent Walk­ing Deadin­spired re­nais­sance in all things zom­bie, Ball also has a blast bring­ing Dash­ner’s Krank pur­suers to the big screen, es­pe­cially dur­ing a Romero-like shop­ping mall at­tack.

Like the open­ing en­try, some of the ma­te­rial pushes the 12A cer­tifi­cate to the limit; this time to an even greater ex­tent with a few grue­some and gory mo­ments.

The trou­bled teens get more adult back-up this time around to help them through the car­nage. Ir­ish­man Ai­dan Gillen ( Jan­son) over­comes a ropey Amer­i­can ac­cent to sup­ply crank­i­ness ga­lore and Alan Tudyk’s (Blondie) owner of a night­club with a dif­fer­ence makes a last­ing im­pres­sion.

Not that the young­sters aren’t ca­pa­ble in their own right, though. O’Brien still has charisma to burn and ex-Skins star Kaya Scode­lario (Teresa) em­braces her vast in­crease in screen time from the first ad­ven­ture.

But for all of The Scorch Tri­als’ plus-points, there’s no doubt it’s in­fe­rior to its pre­de­ces­sor. T S Nowlin once again adapts the screen­play of Dash­ner’s work and the story doesn’t build on the re­la­tion­ships es­tab­lished in the maze.

The sense of mys­tery – so preva­lent in the puz­zle-packed first movie – also takes a back seat as peril-strewn set pieces take prece­dence and the char­ac­ters go round in more cir­cles than when trapped in the maze.

At two hours-plus the pace slows to a crawl at times and the se­quel can quite es­cape the fact it’s a mid­dle chap­ter with lit­tle re­solved and plot strands left dan­gling.

Good job, then, that the end­ing packs a punch to leave a heck of a start­ing point for 2017’s tril­ogy closer The Death Cure.

Once again, I can’t wait to see what hap­pens next... but hope­fully the se­ries ends with more of a bang than a whim­per.

Feel­ing the heat Dy­lan O’Brien finds him­self in bother

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