Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
We know by now that young adult literature must come in threes, and that the obligatory second instalment is usually just a filler between an interesting set-up and a hopefully exciting finale. So it shouldn’t feel like such a disappointment that The Scorch Trials is essentially disposable, but given the promise of the first film, it does.
The first Maze Runner movie presented one of the more bewildering YA dystopias – whereas others (think Hunger Games and Divergent ) establish the setting by spelling out the past, Maze Runner was expert at leaving us as in the dark as its protagonists. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien – still cute but underwhelming) and his friends awoke, memories erased, in a glade surrounded by a deadly maze. By the time they made it out, two cinematic hours later, we’d been suitably terrified through multiple chase scenes and were then left completely confused by a “revelation” which set up the sequel.
The Scorch Trials starts in a similar vein, throwing Thomas (and us) into a locked-down facility run by a blatantly evil Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, The Wire) where naïve young people are siphoned off after dinner each evening, supposedly to a better, safer life away from some undisclosed peril. Of course, only Thomas is suspicious about what’s really going on, and so begins the second movie where a conveniently-cast cross-section of youthful humanity jumps out of the frying pan into the fire of “The Scorch” where they go on the run from admittedly quite frightening creatures.
Problem is, this time it’s just boring. The script delivers little more than “What is this place?” – “I don’t know” moments between the cast, and a series of “bring back the actor we’ve not seen in years” cameos doesn’t manage to elevate it. Convention? Tick. Stereotype? Tick. I’ve not read the books (there are actually five, though only three films mooted so far), but the presumptive third will have a lot to prove.