“The Scorch Trials” (2015)

A-maze-ing or a total crank?
by Kirsten Kapteijns

AFTER a year of waiting, the time was here; the second instalment of “The Maze Runner” series was re-leased. Cinematically, the success they achieved with “The Maze Runner” is seen through the quality of the set of “The Scorch Trials”. The film is visually appealing and stylized in a way where each scene has a visual meaning. The scenery is diverse and reverberates the sense of loss, regret and hopelessness the characters are going through. However, if you are the type of person that has troubles with differences between book and film, be prepared to be dis-appointed. Aside from the characters, the basic concept and a few details, the film majorly deviates from the novel by James Dashner.

“The Scorch Trials” picks up almost immediately where its predecessor left off. Saved from WCKD, the corporation that put them in the Maze in “The Maze Runner”, protagonist Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers are transported by a helicopter to a remote fortified outpost, while being followed by a group of zombie-like creatures, also known as Cranks. This opens the film directly on a high action span, which grabs the attention of the audience. In the facility they meet Janson (Aidan Gillen), an operative who claims to be from a rival organization and they are united with other teenagers who escaped mazes similar to their own. Confused and suspicious, Thomas be-friends Aris (Jacob Lofland) to find out what is really going on. In a series of extremely convenient events they find out the truth. Shocked, Thomas wastes no time and he and his group try to es-cape the facility, but will they be able to survive in the wasteland of the Scorch?

The first minutes already show a major change to the plot of the book, and from there on it only strays further and further away, leaving even those who did read the series as confused as those who did not. Whereas the first film “The Maze Runner” successfully left out information to create an air of mystery, the second film takes this too far and leaves the audience clueless to what is happening at certain points. One of the major cringe-worthy changes in the film is the fact that the entire essence of why the Gladers end up in the Scorch differs. Whereas in the book WCKD uses the Scorch as a new set of Trials for the Gladers, hence the title, in the film they end up there after hav-ing escaped from WCKD. After which Janson continues to hunt them down through the entire film.

The film continues on without doing much for the plot or character development. It feels like a filler-film to get from the point of the Maze to the end of the story, at the same time giving the viewer not much clue as to where this story is heading. At some points the film itself feels in cohesive as a random drug scene tries to create some sexual tension between Thomas, new ally Brenda (Rosa Zalazar) and Theresa (Kaya Scodelario), however never gets mentioned afterwards. The characters are all only reacting, simply running from one horror to the next, hoping that at some point someone will tell them what’s going on.

Despite the flaws of the film, Dylan O’Brien does a perfect job at portraying Thomas’s turmoil and pain, while at the same time working to be a true leader. As a Glader (Alexander Flores) asks him to end his life, the viewer can see Thomas’s pain reverberate through-out his body, while at the same time he knows that it must be done, giving the film an emotionally brutal, but strong scene. Aiden Gillen is a spot on fit for Janson’s character. He swiftly moves between hero and villain, and the view-er is left unsure of his true intentions. However, due to the high pace of the film, the other characters seemingly get forgotten. The group dynamics that were brilliantly displayed in “The Maze Runner”, get lost in all the action from the second film. Both Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) are pushed from being primary characters to secondary characters, in order to make place for more action. Hollywood does what it has always done and lets the plot fall to the Flare in order to gain action scenes.

Of course, it is very much hinted that the final instalment will give all the answers. However, with “The Kill Order” being 2 years away still, there is only so long viewers will keep scurrying around the film-makers’ own maze before growing tired of it.

Kirsten Kapteijns, Class of 2017, is a Science major, from Lage Mierde, The Netherlands.

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