Mr. Movie

‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ is enough heat to scorch but not enough to burn

Gary Wolcott

Mr. Movie

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien, right) leads Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) in a daring escape in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien, right) leads Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) in a daring escape in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. The Washington Post

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second film of what will be a Maze Runner series. It has Thomas and his Maze Runner friends, the Gladers, leaping from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. They’re out of the maze, saved from the zombie-like Cranks by a military outfit of sorts and supposedly are in the care of friends.

It turns out they — and leader Janson — are just another arm of WICKED. Janson is doing the mad scientist thing, hoping Thomas and his group of immunes will help find a cure for the humanity-killing virus, the Flare. Those who saw the first movie will remember contact with the virus turns you into a Crank. Allied with an insider, they manage an escape and head for what may be a safe zone. To get there, the Gladers have to cross the Scorch, a barren and brutal desert.

Part way through, they run into a group of Cranks whose infection has not yet run its course. They’re led by Jorge and Brenda. The movie asks if Jorge and Brenda are good or bad guys? It wonders if the group can manage to outrun Janson, WICKED and its leader, Ava Paige? Will they survive the Scorch and the Cranks? Who runs the safe zone, and is the safe zone really safe?

And do you care?

If you saw the first film and found it awful, then no. Fans of the film will be satisfied. Those not liking the original will find this one a huge improvement, if not a pretty good flick.

While tedious in spots and definitely predictable, director Wes Ball and writer T.J. Nowlin manage to make the second film more interesting and action-packed than the first. But it’s still a dystopian thriller aimed at teens, and has much in common with The Hunger Games, Divergent and others of that ilk.

Fans of the books are going to find the director, writer and the movie’s producers did the same thing with the second film as the first. It’s a story so different that it’s almost a completely new tale and one that simply borrows author James Dashner’s characters.

That is tedium of a different kind, and in the end, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials has just enough heat to scorch, but not enough to burn.

Chilling. Frightening. Are those words that describe your opinion of Mr. Movie’s opinion? Let him know at www.tri-cityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.

Director: Wes Ball

Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Li, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Alexander Flores, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosa Salazar, Aiden Gillen, Lili Taylor, Barry Pepper, Alan Tudyk, Jacob Lofland

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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