In a time where storytellers are obsessed with the end of the world, it may seem easy to write off “The Scorch Trials” as another generic film about surviving the apocalypse. However, James Dashner published “The Scorch Trials” in 2010, arguably pre-apocalyptic-obsession. The film’s change in pace is a smooth and welcome transition from its predecessor, “The Maze Runner.”
Having just escaped a giant maze called ‘the glade,’ protagonist Thomas, played by Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf”), and his group of friends are whisked away by a mysterious group of men in a helicopter. When they arrive at their unknown destination, the gladers are rushed to a maximum security compound where they’re given a long-needed respite. But then Thomas begins to question the nature of his new home.
After a shocking discovery about their rescuers, Thomas and his friends break out of the compound and race off into the vast desert known as ‘the scorch.’ Outrunning supernatural lightning storms and zombie-like creatures known as ‘cranks,’ the gladers overcome trial after trial as they search for help.
Director Wes Ball keeps the plot simple, but in order to compensate for the basic storyline, he adds multiple action scenes throughout the film. The movie only has about 20 minutes of non-action, which concentrates at its beginning. After that, the audience should buckle up for a stream of chase-scenes, collapsing buildings, firefights and explosions. These high-octane scenes drive the film forward and keep the audience engaged. Breathtaking special effects and impressive cinematography accent the action scenes.
Music wise, “The Scorch Trials’” score lacks a unique identity. An overuse of orchestration attempts to elevate scenes to an emotional level they can’t achieve by themselves. The music works, but it doesn’t add much substance.
In addition to the established actors from “The Maze Runner,” this film’s cast brings in some new faces, most notably Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”) and Aidan Gillen (“Game of Thrones”). Gillen plays the antagonist Janson, who acts as the cool and collected villain people love to hate. Esposito plays an opportunistic nomad named Jorge who simply exudes charisma and has the potential to become a fan favorite.
The rest of the acting is given with what feels like a bare minimum delivery. It leaves something to be desired, but is just good enough to avoid distracting the audience.
Overall, “The Scorch Trials” is a fun and exciting sequel to “The Maze Runner” that fans of the books and films will enjoy. Though it may lack in certain departments, the movie is engaging enough to keep its audience entertained.
“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” (PG-13, 131 min) is now playing at Regal Majestic Theater in Silver Spring.Follow @PassiveMetal