In last year's abundance of YA, dystopian, "teen flicks", the highlight was Wes Ball's adaption of the hit novel The Maze Runner. Well, we're now set to return to that world with Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and here's my review.

Having escaped the horrors of the Glade and its Grievers, The Scorch Trials picks up where we left off last year with Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and the rest of "the Gladers" that escaped alive finding themselves at the humble, caring hands of the mysterious W.C.K.D. However, as they begin realise to realise that something is up and that the organisation may not be what they seem, the group escape from their lab and head out into the barren, desolate wasteland known as "the Scorch" - the ruined remains of the world, now a desert-like, post-apocalyptic landscape. Heading across the Scorch, in a search for answers, the group must deal with angry W.C.K.D enforcer Janson (Aidan Gillen) on their tale, as well as the effect of the disease that tore the world down in the first place: angry, zombies known as Cranks.

Just before the credits began rolling in the first film last year, we got a little tease of the sequel and a saw a little glimpse at the vast, wasteland that is the Scorch and just as it was stunning there, returning director Wes Ball has triumphed in maintaining it's visual prowess because if there's anything to say about The Scorch Trials, it's that it is visually gorgeous. The sun baked, post-apocalyptic landscape is stunning and all the shots are captured so beautifully to give each shot a nice, slick, isolated and tense atmosphere. The action sequences are just as much so, so visceral and epic and intense as our protagonists take on the Cranks. There's a sense of poignancy to how this film looks; golden, damaged yet beautiful.

Not only has the visual aspect of The Scorch Trials improved from its predecessor but the acting has too. Whilst the cast has expanded to add all sorts of talented names to the ensemble, like Aidan Gillen and Giancarlo Esposito, who all - of course - excel and bring a lot to this project, its really the returning stars that bring a lot more to the table this time. It feels as though, in the year that we've left them, the actors have all come back and given this film they're everything. Not only do Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee so comfortably slip into their corresponding characters but they all also improve them too; giving them a lot more depth and fleshing them out too. Dylan O'Brien triumphs as our protagonist Thomas, really embodying the role and taking the helm and the lead of this YA franchise as any great YA hero does, like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss or Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.
Despite some good acting and visuals though, the main problem with The Scorch Trials lies in its story and its writing and its development. For the first half hour or so, the premise and story is very engaging and gripping and intense but things begin to slip from there as the film heads into your typical YA, genre fare. It's almost as if the writers squeezed all their energy and effort into the first act of the picture and had nothing left to work with and didn't know where to go from there because there's not much substance to the plot afterwards and it's just there merely to lengthen the runtime and setup the next picture. The writing becomes were sloppy and poor too, as does the character development. The acting is good and the cast infuse a lot of energy and charisma into their roles to make them memorable and to get the audience attached to them but the intensity and suspension from the first film doesn't translate. The zombie-like Cranks look cool and have a few thrilling, terrifying scenes but it's all too conventional and clich├ęd and repetitive for a franchise that started off and so atypical and unique. The dark, gritty tone and atmosphere is still there though which is always great in a film like this.

The pieces are all there and The Scorch Trials makes exceptional use of some of them, with some really memorable and excellent scenes, and it's a beautifully-shot, well-acted and competent piece of film overall that will definitely entertain but, unfortunately, it does merely just that and feels as though some parts of the jigsaw are just so mawkishly and clumsily put together for the sake of it and it never quite feels like a complete, cohesive picture either too, with a lot missing and unexplained or never quite used to its full potential.

VERDICT:
Dark and thrilling, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is an engaging and entertaining enough sequel that its strong in its own rights, if never quite living up to what came before.
★★★☆


About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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