September 19, 2015

Movie Review: Maze Runner - The Scorch Trials

Last year we got another in a long line of young adult dystopian future novel adaptations in The Maze Runner. I went in hoping it would wash the bad taste of The Giver, which was released shortly before it, out of my mouth. It did, sort of. It was a movie that was always in motion and successfully distracted me from a pretty poorly written movie. Somehow it managed to be enough to entice me to come back for the sequel. It was touch and go for a minute, but I went. With that said, I am thinking I may not come back for the third.

This second movie, sub-titled The Scorch Trials, is a marginal improvement over the first, mainly for the fact they stay away from plot, for the most part. They drop bits here and there, but it all follows a more logical progression than the first. Still, you can't forget the ridiculousness of the first, meaning that whatever comes after it is going to lack sense. Take it as a standalone movie, you would be moderately better off.

Wes Ball returns to the director's chair for his second big screen feature, his first being, obviously, the first Maze Runner, his next project will be the conclusion of the trilogy, he turns in a workmanlike performance, the movie is made well enough but doesn't really do anything to make it stand out from the crowd. Likewise, the screenplay from TS Nowlin, based on the novel by James Dashner, fills the need of requiring dialogue and a progression of action. Beyond that, it is by the numbers and nothing to really distinguish itself.

Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and the rest of the folks he survived the maze with are now holed up in a facility with kids from other mazes. The apparent goal is to get them away from the bad guys, WCKD (or Wicked, get it?). The problem is that things are not what they seem and now they all need to escape and find someone else to help them.

Nothing particularly special. It moves fast enough up so you don't get bored, necessarily. It is really one big chase and it doesn't really mean much. They stop every once in awhile for some to deliver some plot exposition, but I never really cared. You will watch because of the noise and things moving around the screen, but after awhile it is like a cat chasing a laser pointer. The red dot holds your attention and keeps you involved,but it ultimately leads nowhere.

The one thing I found marginally interesting and would have loved if they played it as a bigger running through line, that point being that maybe they do need to go back, maybe they need to think about the greater good. When you watch the movie, you will see why these kids are so highly desired by the wicked ones, and it may not be an entirely evil goal. You could play up personal responsibility to humanity, selfishness, the desire to help the race, all sorts of things like that, but it only comes up as a byproduct at the end. It could have led to a great moral quandary, if only the project was up to it.

Something else I was amused by, is how this movie seemed to turn into a Resident Evil movie. Replace WCKD with Umbrella, the Flare virus with the T-virus, Cranks for zombies, and there you have a Resident Evil movie. Add in the sand of this movie and it looks like the third movie in that series, Extinction.

The bottom line is that this is a trifle of a movie that is not destined to be remembered in years to come. It is a distraction. A necessary sequel to a movie that made moderate money. It is not something that you will leave you wanting if you don't see it. Or you could just say I am not part of the target audience.

Not Recommended.

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