After the surprise hit of last year’s The Maze Runner comes Maze Runner: the Scorch Trials, the second installment of James Dashner’s YA trilogy. But The Scorch Trials feels more sci-fi than teen: now out of the Maze, our survivors head out into the Scorch, where they must escape the clutches of their captors, WCKD, as well as a deadly disease, the Flare, whilst struggling to choose which side they’re on.
Yes, it’s about teenagers in a futuristic dystopian society who have to fight against bad guys who want to take advantage of them. It’s a formula that we’ve become very familiar with lately, with the Hunger Games and Divergent series being so popular. But here’s where the Scorch Trials is different: it’s more of a sci-fi thriller than anything. Director Wes Ball has created his own world more so than warping our own, and the people with the Flare – called Cranks – are actually scary, their brilliant makeup and special effects making the film have a zombie movie feel, too. Refreshingly, it’s also not as superficial as the other two series, with not really much focus on relationships or fashion. For those who haven’t read the books (like myself), the amount of sci-fi in the film can occasionally overwhelm the plot. Basically, there’s this deadly disease called the Flare, which is incurable – but the DNA of some people contains an antidote, so a corporation called WCKD wants to harvest the next generation to create a cure. Thus, our heroes are on the run from WCKD, the Cranks, and even their own past. There’s never really a dull moment – by the end, you’re thinking “how much more could actually happen?” -, as we watch Thomas and his friends deal with this new world.
Because this sequel is definitely more of a team movie than the first. Dylan O’Brien is great as he leads the cast as Thomas, brilliantly showing his desire to save his friends and struggle to do the right thing. But what’s great is that we get to see more of Newt, Minho and Teresa, plus Winston, Aris and Frypan, and the talented young cast really bring emotion and depth to their characters. A heartbreaking scene to look out for in the Scorch shows us this real depth of character and will hit you right in the feels, and is also an opportunity for Ball to show off his great scenery and direction skills. Patricia Clarkson, Giancarlo Esposito and Aidan Gillen round out the older cast, bringing a little bit of humanity to the cold and sterile WCKD.
In amongst all of the young adaptions we’ve seen lately, The Scorch Trials stands out because it’s not superficial, but has an action packed storyline that relies on plot, not romance, for audience interest. Full of conflict and with a great director and cast, Maze Runner: the Scorch Trials made me very eager to see what happens next. And who makes it out alive.
Here’s my top five list of films and TV shows starring the cat of the Scorch Trials:
- Love Actually – Thomas Brodie-Sangster
- The Internship – Dylan O’Brien
- Game of Thrones – Aidan Gillen and Thomas Sangster
- Easy A – Patricia Clarkson
- Skins – Kaya Scodelario