Less direction out of the maze
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