Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – Review

The Scorch Trials

Young Adult fiction is running rampant these days, inspiring filmmakers to jump head first into iron-clad trilogies (and often quadrilities to suck every last dime out of their audience). Not all Young Adult sagas are created equal, as we can see with the differences between Twilight and The Hunger Games. Maze Runner lives somewhere in the middle – in a no-man’s land where potential thrives but execution falters. The Scorch Trials follows suit as a maddeningly average bridge to the next installment.

In this next chapter of the epic “Maze Runner” saga, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers face their greatest challenge yet: searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and uncover its shocking plans for them all. (C) Fox

I think Fox isn’t entirely sure of the meaning of the word “epic”. There are immense backdrops and CG locations that inspire awe, but this is common in post-apocalyptic movies these days. CG chase scenes are present and believable as well. However, when you have a threadbare story and a lackluster script, these great elements are quickly forgotten.


Whether or not you’ve seen the first installment, The Scorch Trials (Scorch) will neither enhance nor impede your understanding of the plot. The film is quite obviously a drawn out segue to the next movie, and the 130 minute runtime feels extremely excessive. Mostly the movie consists of the characters running from location to location, being chased, and occasionally meeting new characters before they start running some more. There are a few revelations about W.C.K.D. and character loyalties, but nothing that the audience can’t see coming.

The plot and script are my biggest issues with Scorch, as it they are both plodding and unimaginative. Maze Runner suffered a bit from these same issues, but at least there was the mystery of the maze and its creatures to tip the scales in its favor. Here, our characters run through desolation for 90% if the movie, and all of the sparse and uninteresting conversations are lengthened by having the actors pretend to be out of breath. Conversations amount to a lot of exclamations of “Go!” or “Run”, or “What aren’t you telling me?” followed by angsty stares and shaking of heads. Scorch also feels like a movie Victor Frankenstein would be proud of – clichés from countless genres are blatantly mashed into a giant, lumbering creature without caution. There are bits of Dawn of the Dead, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and even a touch of Soylent Green. On their own these films are unique, but when writers James Dashner and T.S. Nowlin draw so heavily from them the whole thing just feels lazy.

The acting is OK, the action is OK, the character interactions are OK… Are you seeing a theme? Nothing stands out about Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and with a plot that chases its own tail and never actually gains any ground there is not much here for this sequel to offer. This is a rental at best.


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