It’s understandable why fans of the novels hate The Scorch Trials adaptation but as someone who isn’t attached to the books in any way, I found it acceptable and entertaining enough. Sure, the film does have its problems especially with the pacing and bloated story taking it over the two hour mark, yet at the same time I don’t regret seeing it.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Horror
Fox | PG13 – 129 min. – $39.99 | December 15, 2015
Date Published: 12/27/2015
Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials begins where the last movie left off: the “Gladers”, led by Thomas (DYLAN O’BRIEN), escaped the compound and hopefully the clutches of the nefarious organization known as WCKD with the help of an outside military force who take them to their fortified facility to fend off the infected. But what seems like a safe haven is anything but as Thomas learns from Aris (JACOB LOFLAND) who has been there the longest: a whole week while others have been sent off for greener pastures, if you get my drift.
Aris, through his exploration in the facilities ductwork, has discovered several bodies going in a secured door and never coming out. Seeing Thomas challenge the authority there, namely the chief security officer Janson (AIDAN GILLEN), Aris includes him and together, after Thomas snags an access card, they gain entrance into the secret room discovering those kids who had gone away are in fact being used to harvest their fluids to develop vaccines, a quick and temporary cure for the deadly disease that ravished the outside world. It just so happens while inside, Janson enters and takes a conference call with WCKD’s leader, Ava Paige (MIRANDA RICHARDSON), and relays they need to up the schedule and Janson suggests taking the newcomers first.
With this knowledge in hand, Thomas rushes back and after some initial hesitation, the others follow Thomas, with Aris’s help, to escape the compound navigating the, pardon the expression, maze of hallways before making it out into the ‘Scorch’, though the dangers are intensified as they must not only outrun WCKD but zombies, err Cranks, making me question if I’m watching Maze Runner or a Resident Evil film and I am, probably better than any of the actual RE movies…
The group – which consists of Thomas, Teresa (KAYA SCODELARIO), Newt (THOMAS BRODIE-SANGSTER), Minho (KI HONG LEE), Frypan (DEXTER DARDAN), Winston (ALEXANDER FLORES) and Aris – travel the vast wasteland into a former city with collapsed buildings though not entirely sure how a virus did that kind of damage. Abandoned cars? Sure. Damaged highways? Without maintenance, I can see that, but how skyscrapers fall on one another doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and decay doesn’t explain it either. I guess I can chalk it up to this being a dystopian future; it does look pretty damn cool however and the effects work was impressive.
The remainder of the movie basically is the group traveling, with the goal of reaching the Right Hand militia, and finding refuge, of sorts, in the form of a man named Jorge (GIANCARLO ESPOSITO) and his right-hand gal, and basically adoptive daughter, Brenda (ROSA SALAZAR). Initially Jorge wants to leverage them with WCKD but ultimately helps them to use them to gain access with the Right Hand militia. In the meantime, WCKD forces are still after the Thomas and friends.
The Scorch Trials is a film that received mixed reviews and for good reason. Fans tended to hate as it deviated from the novel and in my research (i.e. Google search), I can see why they’d be PO’d but as someone who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt having never read any of the books, I went in with an open mind, and feeling the first movie was perfectly serviceable, I actually found Scorch to be mildly entertaining if not bloated and unfocused not to mention dealing with some pacing issues.
The performances, albeit nothing outstanding, weren’t bad. Dylan O’Brien may not be Jennifer Lawrence in his skills but he does well in the lead and the inclusions of Patricia Clarkson (reprising her role), Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen and even Barry Pepper provide some nice weight working opposite the young talents. Kaya Scodelario meanwhile, after a nice introduction in Maze 1, seemed to be reduced and often had similar expressions as Kristen Stewart in the Twilight Saga, though that’s not to say her character isn’t important, but with only a few lines, she doesn’t have much to offer, though hopefully the third and final entry will allow her more material to work with. One of the better highlights in the cast is Rosa Salazar as Brenda and with a role in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean sequel she could be an actress to watch out for.
The film was helmed by Wes Ball who returns from the first film, and is set to direct the third, and although his, and the studios choice in changing up the story was questionable, Ball makes for a half-decent action director and at least strings together an entertaining film in spite of problems with the story and even some pacing issues as, at two hours long, it does feel bloated and needed some tightening.
In the end, Maze Runner: Scorch Trials is hardly perfect and could’ve been better in many regards, but for myself, as someone who has never read the novels, I found it satisfyingly entertaining, nothing more and nothing less. It’s not going to be a movie I’ll remember a month from now and I don’t know how much replay value it contains, yet if you’re not married to the source material, it might make for an enjoyable flick.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
This release comes with a slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy as well as a standard DVD Copy. There’s also a mini-comic book with two stories, one from the Teresa’s point-of-view before Thomas went into the Glades.
Audio Commentary – Director/Executive Producer Wes Ball, Screenwriter T.S. Nowlin, Producer Joe Hartwick Jr. and EditorDan Zimmerman all offering their insights into the movie and although Ball probably has the most to say, it’s a nice collaborative and interesting track.
Janson’s Report (4:57; HD) is a “leaked internal WCKO video report presenting the Gladers’ debriefing sessions after the escape from the Maze”.
Deleted & Extended Scenes (17:58; HD) – Here we get 14 scenes removed or cut down, more often than not due to pacing issues. These come with an optional commentary with Ball (who basically does all of the talking), Nowlin and Hartwick Jr.
Secrets of the Torch (52:15; HD) – This is an extensive, 6-part, making-of documentary on the making of The Scorch Trials with on-location footage and interviews with members of the cast and crew beginning on day one. There is some talk about how the movie deviates from the book and putting a happy face to those changes.
Gag Reel (15:02; HD) – I’ve got to say, this might be the longest set of outtakes part from a Judd Apatow movie…
Also included are a Visual Effects Breakdowns (1:06; HD) with optional commentary by Ball, a Visual Effects Reel (29:55; HD), some Galleries (Concept Art, Storyboards) and two Theatrical Trailers (4:05; HD).
Previews – The Martian, Spectre, Paper Towns
VIDEO – 4.5/5
|Maze Runner: The Scorch Trial makes way onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. Not surprisingly, the picture quality is quite good. Colors are more on the warmer side considering the dystopia settings but details are sharp and there were no apparent instances of artifacts or aliasing.|
AUDIO – 4.75/5
|The movie comes with a nice and robust 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio track which is more than enough as the movie has a good combination, in terms of audio, of quiet, reflective scenes and the action-centric sequences particularly in the middle section as our protagonists journey through the rubble and, in one instance, one character falling down onto a window (as seen in nearly every trailer).|
OVERALL – 3.5/5
|Overall, it’s understandable why fans of the novels hate The Scorch Trials adaptation but as someone who isn’t attached to the books in any way, I found it acceptable and entertaining enough. Sure, the film does have its problems especially with the pacing and bloated story taking it over the two hour mark, yet at the same time I don’t regret seeing it. The Blu-ray released by Fox offers some good bonus material and great video/audio transfers.|
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.