Let’s go let’s go, gogogogo come on come on. Hurry hurry! We’ve got to get out of here. Gogogo! Come on come on. Go go come on come on gogo!
That’s half the script right there. Pffffffffff. Will you stop running? Running from set piece to set piece. Now, I haven’t read the books but I can imagine that the main character Thomas had some kind of running thing going on, him being the Maze Runner after all. And perhaps both the books and the director wanted to keep that thing in the movies. But this movie doesn’t really lend itself for that; not as much as part 1 did. Part 1 was about running to escape a maze. Part two is… well it is more about expanding the world-building, and the running is incidental to keep the adrenaline of the audience flowing.
So that’s what we got. If Insurgent (2015) was about people staring dramatically into the distance, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) is about people running. Pity Tom Cruise wasn’t there to join them.
Now, the movie isn’t that bad. It’s not offensive. The action is actually really well done. The editing and the points of view and the lighting are all quite good and even though the action is frantic, you can follow what is happening. Some scenes were quite involving and tense, such as Thomas sliding under a closing door and all that.
What we got is action-involvement without story-involvement. What’s good are the set-pieces and the dramatic backgrounds and special effects. Also, slight spoiler, the movie morphs into a zombie running movie, and the zombies are quite an interesting variety. What it isn’t, is original. The Maze Runner could be the future world of World War Z (2013) or I Am Legend (2007) or any of those type of movies. Also, you gotta love them post-apocalyptic rave parties.
The worst problems of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials are problems that all YA movies suffer from. I’ve expanded upon this in Why YA dystopias never got good. What it comes down to is childish world-building and annoying characterization. So, as an audience we are presented with a future world where the bad guys are an organization named WICKED (really?), and everything has Capitals to make things sound Significant. The bad guys are the adults, and the teenagers are yelling and panicking and not communicating.
Middle parts of trilogies are the hardest parts, and the place where the story really needs to prove itself. It is the part of the story that enlarges the world and the emotional complexity, and has to raise the interest of the audience in the ending of it all. The Scorch Trials barely makes it through this test, and offers only the skeleton of a story behind a series of action set pieces. As a consequence, the setup for the final part of the trilogy is minimal.
But… if you like action and special effects, I would still recommend this movie.
The movie ends with the establishment of a clear villain, a simple plan, and a new configuration of characters in the group of heroes for the Final Challenge. The story concludes next year. Unless… the final part will be chopped into two.