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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

It differs wildly from its source material, but that deviation isn’t where The Scorch Trials suffers. There was clearly a lot of effort put into making a fast paced action adventure that would top its predecessor, but as a result sacrifices were made in terms of character development and dynamics to sustain momentum. It’s exciting and thrilling, but it isn’t necessarily engaging.

The film rarely lets up from start to finish, with the survivors of the first film being thrown directly into a new, seemingly safe environment that quickly turns into something dark and sinister. From there the film starts a seemingly unbroken running sequence that doesn’t take a breather for the first half of the movie. It’s fun, but no time is taken to remember who these characters are and what they went through not a week previous to what’s happening on screen. It’s a bit disconcerting, but the appearance of two new characters, Brenda and Jorge (played perfectly by Rosa Salazar and Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito respectively) half way through breaks the film up nicely.

The movie doesn’t rely very much on the events of the book, only taking a few notes in terms of location and new characters. I was thrown by that at first, but I was sold by the end. There’s a lot in the source novel that wouldn’t translate well on screen, and thankfully the screenplay takes that into consideration so non readers aren’t left to read between the lines.

I was still left a little cold by everything that happened, though. I didn’t feel like I learned much about anyone other than Thomas and Teresa, save the newcomers, which is a shame since we spend most of the film following the group’s journey. Characters like Minho and Newt, as important as they supposedly are, don’t stand out as anything other than recognisable placeholders. Hopefully the final film will change that.

Though The Maze Runner was a stronger film all round, The Scorch Trials doesn’t throw the franchise off course. It has its weaknesses, but by the time the credits roll there’s a lot more at stake, and a clear plan set is set in motion that should see things reach an inevitable climax in the concluding chapter, The Death Cure (slated for a February 2017 release). I’m a little let down, but this isn’t a terrible film by any means. It just doesn’t have as much heart as I would have liked.

2.5 out of 5 cranks

Originally posted at PandaTV.

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