Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
(20th Century Fox, 2015)
Did you ever go into a movie expecting one thing and getting another? That was my experience with The Scorch Trials, the second Maze Runner movie based on the book series. I read the books about a year ago, so I vaguely knew the story, even the opening passages: The kids rescued from Maze in the previous book/movie are moved into some dorm rooms by their rescuers. Then things get very weird, and behold, they find out that the whole previous book was just part one of a series of tests.
Evidently their rescuers are trying to measure the kids’ reaction to intense stresses, and the Maze was just part one. Part two is about to begin: They will have to leave the dorm and travel by themselves 100 miles north to the mountains, where they will complete another phase of the so called Scorch Trials.
But somehow, the director of The Scorch Trials forgot to put the first 100 pages of the book into the movie! So instead, our former maze runners wake up, find out that something evil seems to be going on, and escape from the dorm in fear of their lives. Where will they go? They’re not sure, but someone mentions finding sanctuary in the mountains with a group called The Right Arm.
The rest of the movie is basically spent running from crazed human-eating zombies called Cranks. That’s pretty much it. There’s lots of action and zombie thrills, with most of the dialogue consisting of “RUN!” punctuated by the sounds of people being shot point blank in the chest. (You never see the actual shots, I mean, PG-13.)
This dystopian sequel mainly shows us what a dystopian world looks like. Of course, we all know from seeing The Matrix, Mad Max, Insurgent, even Planet of the Apes, that a dystopian landscape consists of burned out buildings and an optional scorched cloudy sky. I’m pretty sure the first third of this movie was shot inside a bombed out parking lot somewhere.
If you’ve ever been in a really scary Haunted House during Halloween, that is what The Scorch Trials reminded me of for most of the unbearable 134 minutes of the film. I’m not a fan of purple-blood mouthed zombies in my face, but I hear that teens love it. So they should love this movie.
The characters, from Thomas, the leader of the pack called The Gladers, to Janson, the lying, conniving villain who really has a mean streak, are pretty much fodder for the zombies– excuse me–Cranks. In fact, if you like nasty zombies jumping out at you in the dark and chasing you, The Scorch Trials should hold you until Halloween at least. I don’t know, maybe the producers felt like they needed to dumb down the book to make it understandable to teens. I guess no one told them that the book series is already written for teens, with a huge fan base. Hello?
As a scary movie, The Scorch Trials is pretty harmless, and should do well with people who like to experience the fear. As a book adaptation it’s the worst I’ve ever seen, except perhaps Blackula. But that’s being unfair to Blackula, actually.
So keep your younger kids home for this one, and stay there with them. The Scorch Trials is rated PG-13 because only the unlucky, like me, will see it.