BY: AUSTIN VAN PAY
“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is the second book to film adaption and the middle chapter in the “Maze Runner” young-adult series by James Dashner. With a slew of large young-adult book to film adaptions such as “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” series coming out every year it’s easy to be very comparative in terms of how their characters and plots are brought to life on the big screen. With the “Scorch Trials,” we’re given a somewhat altered story from the source material. Even with these changes, Wes Ball respectfully and successfully translates many great characters and plot elements to the big screen with exciting intensity.
“The Scorch Trials” picks up minutes after the first film, “Maze Runner” and introduces us back to our hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his company after they’ve escaped the terrifying and mysterious giant maze created by WCKD. Thomas and his friends have been rescued by helicopter from a group of military-looking men and are transported to a large bunker facility in the middle of the desert wasteland dubbed “The Scorch”. Thomas is introduced to other maze survivors in the facility and they’re given a hot shower, a good meal and a warm bed. Thomas suspects something isn’t right after his fellow “glader” and love interest, Teresa is taken by these men and kept from the rest of the group somewhere in the bunker. Thanks to the help of a mysterious fellow maze survivor, Aris, Thomas finds out that their so-called rescuers brought them to this place for horrifying reasons. In order to escape their clutches, Thomas and his company are forced to go into the terrifying desert wasteland of “The Scorch.”
From the moment our characters are forced into this harsh wasteland, the film never really lets up its intensity and delivers some fantastic spectacle and action-chase sequences throughout. Together, Wes Ball and author James Dashner have crafted an intense post-apocalyptic adventure that still contains plenty of mystery and suspense to suck you in. The introduction of the “Flare” infected creatures called “Cranks” adds a well-done horror element, as well as the added characters such as Brenda, push the narrative in an interesting twist of directions. Some may find certain plot elements under-explained or confusing, but it doesn’t take away from the film entirely. The unexplained adds to the overall mystery and suspense in the film. There are some other minor issues, such as a very weird shift in the second-half of the film where drinking and hallucinations are involved, a scene taken straight from “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” and some minor clichéd post-apocalyptic plot elements which are typical for this type of film setting.
These minor issues are largely overshadowed by the fantastic setting, fast-paced action and performances from Dylan O’Brien who plays Thomas. He’s also followed by great supporting actors such as Newt (Thomas Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito). O’Brien does a fantastic job of making you believe that he is meant to play Thomas. Most of the actors are solid with their performances and seem to be very devoted to bringing their characters to life.
If you were a fan of the first film or just a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, you’ll find a lot to love in this film. “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” delivers plenty of action, suspense, and twists to satisfy a variety of movie-goers. Wes Ball seems to have a great enthusiasm for the world, characters and story that James Dashner has created. Film-goers may be frustrated with the middle-chapter factor that requires further plot explanation in the next installment. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait and these questions will all be answered in the one part conclusion, “Maze Runner: Death Cure” in 2017.