Review: 'MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS' Thrills With Zombies & Lots of Running

Review: 'MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS' Thrills With Zombies & Lots of Running


I got the chance to see 'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials' at an advanced screening, courtesy of IGN.COM

'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,' tops its predecessor and does right by its audience, offering an enticing fusion between adventure horror and dystopian fiction. Wes Ball directs the exciting follow up to 'Maze Runner,' and I can't help but agonise over waiting for the third instalment in 2017.

'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials' begins where we left off at the end of the first film, our team of youngsters being led into a military compound after escaping the maze. Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and the other survivors are given a place to stay and protection from the dangers of 'the scorch,' but not is all as it seems.

If Ball is anything, he is confident in where he wants to take the Maze Runner trilogy. He expects you to have watched the first film before his second instalment, because he's not going to hold your hand and tell you what happened, who died and how they got here. He has a story he needs to get on with, and helping laggards hop on a plane which has already taken off is pointless.

That's why this film starts off so brilliantly, because you could watch both the first and second instalments as a marathon, one story that flows from on to the next. Not two minutes into the film, we are thrust into a compelling opening that showcases us the dangers of the scorch, reminding us to keep on the edge of our seats for this bumpy ride.

'Maze Runner' wasn't slow, but it is slower than Ball's second instalment to the trilogy. The first film suffered from sparse, though clunky storytelling in the first act. Thomas asked questions which led to answers which led to more questions which led to more exposition. But as a film that needs to build a world, excite the audience and not make us bored to death, Ball succeeded with payoffs that took 'Maze Runner' further than anything we had seen in the trailers.

'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials' builds on that success. The trailer shows a lot but actually tell us nothing, and I can't help but praise the marketing team for prompting my curiosity for both films. Since the world had already been built and constructed, Ball is able to thrust us into the mix with not a doubt in sight. If there is exposition, it's because we need a scene to be set before we can understand where we are.

Believe me when I say this is smartly written, carefully directed and absolutely steered with confidence by Wes Ball. But he didn't do all the work.

There are so many characters in this movie that Ball juggles each character around with varied success. New characters dish out their life story in minutes and character development is minimal. Along balancing characters, a struggle to uphold a mix of narrative and action beats lead to an uninteresting set of sequences between the second and third acts.

Nevertheless, I came into 'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,' hoping for a dystopian film that reminded me of what the series was all about: survival.

Thomas is curious. We are also curious because the movie unfolds from the perspective of him and his team. And because we are curious, Ball manipulates our hearts into thumping to the beat of the drum, from jump scares to anxiety about one of our heroes dying. Did you think everyone was going to get out of this safe and sound?

Ball's 'Maze Runner' wasn't just dystopian fiction and a system that you had to overthrow. There were elements of science-fiction, adventure and even horror.

'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials' stands on its own two feet by taking adventure horror to a whole new level. There's more running and even zombies, but that's okay.

In fact, the zombie action sequences are actually incredible. I remember three scares in total, one of which actually managing me to jump off my seat and scream for dear life.

On top of that, I can't ignore the admiration for the lighting team that made this movie possible. One of the scenes in the trailers has Thomas and co.  running for their lives in the dark with flashlights. The action excited and scared, and few directors can make a 130 minute movie work, but Wes Ball does. Along with instances I won't mention, lighting can make or break a film; remember how fake the zombies looked in 'I Am Legend'?

'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials' is a quality addition to book adaptations and takes the cake for one of the best book-to-film renditions I've ever seen. Along with its predecessor, Wes Ball shows us that dystopian narrative doesn't dictate genre, again proving to us his skill in handling this franchise for 20th Century Fox.

If you haven't watched 'Maze Runner,' you've got your homework before 'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials' sprints into your local cinema.

Playback Rating: 4.3/5 



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