I literally watched the first film in this franchise, The Maze Runner (2014), the night before watching Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and I’ve got to admit I am really impressed with both films. Director Wes Ball deserves most of the credit for navigating what could have been just another generic young-adult franchise and turning it into a fun, entertaining set of movies in my opinion. Out of the two films I probably like The Maze Runner (2014) more than Scorch Trials but that’s not a knock on the sequel because it was also very entertaining and a solid continuation of the first movie. Before I get into detail what I did and did not like about Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, check out the synopsis below to get a better understanding of the plot.
After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.
I can’t talk about the quality and success of these movies without mentioning Dylan O’Brien as the lead. This kid is really solid in these movies and I can see why he was rumored to be Peter Parker/Spider-Man before Marvel cast Tom Holland. O’Brien has proved that he can carry a film with these two movies and I happen to think he is going to have a successful career as not only a movie star but an action star as well. This role as Thomas requires a lot of physicality and from my perspective O’Brien is totally viable as a leading action man. I’m very much looking forward to see where his career goes.
One thing I can say about both Maze Runner films is that they have incredible pacing and tone. In the first one the tone is established early on in the movie and stays consistent throughout, which is something I admire incredibly. The Scorch Trials continues with that same tone which is kind of “dark” (for lack of a better word), mysterious and has some subtle humor. The pacing is also consistent with the first film with a perfect mixture of slow build-up scenes and fast-paced action-packed scenes. Having good pacing doesn’t necessarily mean that the movie is moving quickly but rather being able to transition smoothly between fast and slow-paced scenes without losing or boring the audience. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials does this brilliantly and it is one of the primary reasons I enjoyed it.
Another aspect of The Scorch Trials that impressed me is world building and set up of the environment. In the first movie we find out that this is a post-apocalyptic world where some outbreak has destroyed humanity and society as we know it. The Scorch Trials expands on this and shows the audience what the world looks like outside of “The Maze”. I really loved the look of the destroyed city with all the broken-down buildings that have fallen over and are leaning on each other. It just really felt like what a post-apocalyptic world would look like, especially in a big city.
Other notable positives in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails is the team dynamic of Thomas and his crew, similar to in the first movie but I feel like the relationships were forwarded and developed more, the introduction of new characters such as Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and all of the battle scenes were well coordinated and shot.
What I’ve been doing throughout this review is referencing the first movie in this franchise and I normally try to review movies separately from their predecessors. However, like I wrote earlier, I literally watched the first Maze Runner the night before I saw The Scorch Trials so they are both still fresh in my head and I can’t help but hold the two movies up against one another. With that being said, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails was not as good as the first film due to a lack of some of the things that worked so well before, not fixing some of the problems in the first movie and a number of new problems as well.
In The Maze Runner (2014) there was something special about the premise of the movie with all of the characters stuck in this blockaded location where the only possible way out was through this dangerous maze. It was very mysterious and had me hooked because I wanted to find out why and how they got there. The fact that the main characters are no longer trapped takes all of that away but I admit this is no one’s fault because obviously they have to continue the story with them outside of the maze and that’s cool. I just wasn’t as hooked to this story in The Scorch Trials because that mystery was gone.
Again, referencing the first film, a problem I did have with it was how Dylan O’Brien’s character Thomas was the bravest guy I’ve ever seen and is doing ridiculous things, risking his life, for people he barely knows or barely remembers knowing. This continued in The Scorch Trials. I get it, he’s the hero and he has to be fearless, ruthless and willing to sacrifice his life for the greater good and anyone who’s in the slightest bit of danger. It just wasn’t realistic to me at all. Yes, there are brave people in real life that do extremely selfless things in order to benefit the greater good or even just individuals but some of the stuff Thomas does in both of these movies is flat out insane. It’s hard to believe that even the bravest of people would selflessly do most of the things we see with his character.
My next issue has to do with some of the crucial plot points in the movie and I will try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. There are a few things that happen, especially near the end of the movie, that are supposed to be “twists” or unexpected events but they ultimately just left me confused and upset. The intention of these points was to get the audience excited for the next movie but how about just wrapping a story at the end of a film, which is what most movies do. Even if it is a franchise with planned sequels, at least wrap up a set of circumstances presented in that movie and then maybe add a little teaser at the end of the film to get audiences thinking about, or at least aware, that there is a sequel coming. Now, I haven’t read The Maze Runner books so I don’t know if they are the same as far as ending with a cliffhanger at the end of each one but in the movies it really bothered me.
There are several other minor flaws in The Scorch Trials but the one’s above stood out to me the most.
Well there you have it movie lovers! My review of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Overall, it’s fun and entertaining time at the theater and I’ll say if you enjoyed the first one (which I give an 8 out of 10) then you should definitely go see this sequel.
I give Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails a 7 out of 10.
How about you all? Have you seen either or both of these films? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comment section!