[Movie Review] ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ has a perfect balance of action and drama

Newt (Thomas Sangster-Brodie), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Frypan (Dexter Darden). (Yahoo)
Newt (Thomas Sangster-Brodie), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Frypan (Dexter Darden). (Yahoo)

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes!

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 131 minutes (~2.25 hours)

“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is a post-apocalyptic, teen action film, the second instalment in the “Maze Runner” franchise. It follows the adventures of the Thomas and friends after their escape from the Maze and into the harsh, ruined Scorch outside. It stars Dylan O’Brien (Thomas), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt), Ki Hong Lee (Minho), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa Agnes), Rosa Salazar (Brenda), Jacob Lofland (Aris Jones), Aidan Gillen (Janson), and Dexter Darden (Frypan).

“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” sounded and looked like it would be a long, boring trudge through a desert, with a forced maze or two thrown in to adhere to the premise, right? Well, there’s a desert – but there’s so much out there waiting for them in the Scorch! Without giving away spoilers, let’s just say that the environments are as varied and memorable as the ones in the first “Maze Runner” and there’s plenty of running for Thomas to do. It’s far more interesting than the posters and trailers let on, and that’s how “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” impresses — by exceeding expectations.

Thomas lunges. (Yahoo)
Thomas lunges. (Yahoo)

Highlights

Lots of action

Thomas really lives up to his name as the Maze Runner in this film. He’s constantly running for his life, whether be it from environmental dangers, ferocious antagonists or devious traps. There aren’t many physical confrontations (they are, ostensibly, not fully grown adults yet after all) but plenty of stunts and traversing crazy obstacles across an imaginative landscape. Their obstacles aren’t just limited to physical obstructions either — the Immunes have to face dangers of a more mental nature too.

Engagement and suspense

While you know that Thomas is never truly in danger, the same doesn’t quite apply from his friends. That’s where the the true tension and excitement come in. Because of the nature of Act One, you know that the trials they face are truly lethal. This means that the question isn’t just how they’ll survive, but if they’ll survive the Scorch Trials. Suffice to say that even the physically unscathed aren’t necessarily survivors in the grand scheme of the story as well.

Stakes are high

Act One establishes a very important rule for the rest of the movie — nobody is safe. And it’s not an empty threat either, as the film continues to put our heroes in mortal peril each time. This helps to elevate the stakes, because a character’s prominence and role are no longer a guarantee of their survival into the next film. And with the dramatic reveals and parallel sacrifices, even the status quo can change.

Picturesque posing

The Maze Runner crew are always, always standing in perfectly posed group shots as the camera pans out to show the enormity of the situation they’re in. While it is a little bit contrived, it does show us how awesome the team looks, and helps build respect for our young protagonists. Not to mention, showing off a bit of scenery too.

Cast is easy on the eyes

Despite the gender imbalance, the cast is very watchable. They’re likeable teenagers (rather than the usual angst-ridden teens we see in similar teen action dramas), with a positive attitude and amazing athleticism. It also helps that aesthetically, they’re rather good looking too.

Has Thomas escaped? (Yahoo)
Has Thomas escaped? (Yahoo)

Letdown

Weak love story

My only beef is with the love story, which doesn’t really get much development but exists for plot reasons. The most egregious issue is how one love interest describes the other’s stark resemblance to a sibling. It doesn’t make sense and comes at the most unexpected point in the film, causing you to wonder what all the previous build up was about.

The crew find themselves backed against a wall. (Yahoo)
The crew find themselves backed against a wall. (Yahoo)

“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is the best teen action movie to have come out thus far, beating out other similar movies like “Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” It strikes the perfect balance between drama and action. If the final movie in the trilogy can match the quality of the second, then the “Maze Runner” would be the perfect trilogy.

“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” opens in cinemas 10 September, 2015 (Thursday).

This review was also published on Yahoo.

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