A.C. at the Movies

Commentary by A.C. Hall
Commentary by A.C. Hall

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

It’s pretty easy to see that we’ve reached a bit of a critical mass when it comes to young adult post apocalyptic entertainment.  The endless stream of new franchises in this genre has died off, and all that currently remains are the already in progress series like Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner.  Thankfully, these in progress series are all quite good.  Maze Runner solidifies its deserving spot with those other great films with the excellent second entry in the franchise, The Scorch Trials.  This is a vastly different film from the first, yet it keeps all the basic building blocks of the series and builds upon them in neat and inventive ways.
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One thing I’ll say right off is that you really need to re-watch the original film before seeing the sequel.  This movie does zero recap and demands a deep knowledge of the first film.  Even people who saw The Maze Runner when it came out last year will likely be a little lost if they haven’t seen that film again in recent months.
The strength of this series is the deep mystery surrounding the main plot, and that carries over beautifully here in the sequel.  While the survivors of the maze are free of the horrors they faced inside, they quickly learn that they’re not much better off.  Fleeing out into the desert wasteland of the world, they stumble upon more dangers and deeper conspiracies.
This feeling of unknown threats and enemies gives The Scorch Trials a wonderful sense of desperation.  This feels like a hopeless journey, and while you root for the wide eyed young stars, you can’t help but think they’re all going to end up dead.  That might sound bleak, but watching them valiantly fight through these bleak circumstances is what makes this movie so good.
My main complaint about the original Maze Runner was the frenetic way it was filmed.  The constantly shaking camera made it hard to follow the action of that movie.  Thankfully, the filmmakers have found a nice balance here in the sequel.  It’s still a frenetic movie, but the camera doesn’t bounce around so much that you can’t tell what’s happening.  This is very good, because the movie has several incredible action sequences.
I really enjoyed this sequel and I’m definitely fully hooked into this franchise now.  However, it’s not a perfect movie.  Some of the biggest dramatic moments fell a little flat.  While most of the cast does a wonderful job, especially star Dylan O’Brien, some of these young actors can’t quite rise to some of the dramatic occasions in the plot.  The lack of any refresher to the earlier film is a little brutal too.  I saw The Maze Runner three and a half times, and even I was still a little lost at times.
Those are pretty minor gripes, however, and I still highly recommend The Scorch Trials.  I’m very excited to see where this franchise goes next.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence and action, some thematic elements, substance use and language

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