Josh and Violet share their male vs. female (and non-book reader vs. book reader!) perspective reviews of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, based on the Young Adult novel by James Dashner, directed by Wes Ball, and starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Aiden Gillen, and Giancarlo Esposito!
Josh’s Movie Review of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials:
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials opened this weekend, making an estimated $30.3 million, which is not quite what the original movie made ($32.5 million), and suffered a bit critically, achieving only a 49% so far on Rotten Tomatoes (it achieved a “fresh” rating of 65% for the first movie). It did come out number one, beating out Johnny Depp’s Black Mass, which also opened this weekend. The Scorch Trials stars Dylan O’Brien, returning as Thomas, the boy who winds up being the reason the kids get out of the maze in the first film, along with Ki Long Lee as Minho, Kaya Scodelario as Teresa, and Dexter Darden as Frypan, and some newcomers such as Rosa Salazar as Brenda and Aidan Gillen as Janson. The previous director of the first Maze Runner, Wes Ball, has returned to direct as well. For those unfamiliar with this series, Maze Runner is based on the novels by James Dashner. I have not read the books, so the review I will provide is based on someone unfamiliar with the property.
This time around, the kids who made it out of the maze are taken to a base in the middle of a desert, where they are promised to be taken care of. The group then finds out there are a lot of kids who got out of their own mazes, and they are all living on this base. Things aren’t quite right for Thomas though, as he is suspicious of what happens to the groups of kids that are sent away to a “better place.” Thomas falls in with a kid named Aris (Jacob Lofland) and together they discover what is really going on, and have to make plans as to what to do next.
This mysterious opening was really intriguing to me, and I was very invested in trying to figure out what was going on. Figuring out who this new group of adults was kept my attention really well, and it seemed like this was going to get pretty interesting.
On a quick side note, Dylan O’Brien does a great job of acting his part as Thomas, and I look forward to see what he moves on to next. For me, he almost has a Michael J. Fox feel about him–a little spastic when things get a little crazy–and it works really well in this film. The scenes with the “Cranks” (if you see the film, you will know what these are) are great because you see him act out the scenes with a subtle chaotic-ness, which shows through really well in his acting.
I also thought the end of the movie was done pretty well. For a “young adult” movie, I thought the ending was done well, without too many cheesy things going on. Again, I thought Dylan O’Brien had a great performance. Most of the cast had a great performance, and Kaya Scoledario’s character Teresa provides a great bit of acting in her scenes too. I have to say that one of the best parts of this film is the more grey-ish tone for good and evil. For the antagonists, you can see their point of view. They aren’t being bad for the safe of being bad. It certainly makes for a more interesting storyline.
Unfortunately, the middle of the movie lost me though. I was fairly uninterested in what was going on in the middle. I thought the story could have had better pacing, and done something better–like for example–having a trial? The name of this film is Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and I didn’t really see any trials going on, other than the personal journey the characters went on, I guess.
The first movie was a surprise to me in how good it was. It was much better than I had expected. Unfortunately, this one came in right around where I thought the first one would be, which is mediocre at best. As I mentioned earlier, I think Dylan O’Brien is an up and coming actor, and I hope he gets some more interesting roles to see what he is capable of. As for the movie itself though, I would probably give this a 5.5 out of 10.
Unfortunately, it was disinteresting enough that I am not particularly worried about what the sequel will entail. This is unlike the first one, where I could not wait to see what was happening next. If you would like to see our previous review on Maze Runner you can view it here.
Violet’s Movie Review
of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials:
As I mentioned in my review of The Maze Runner, I was initially not very excited about the movie, and only saw it to experience the Barco Escape aspect, where there were screens to your left and right. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the film, which ended up being much better than I ever expected, and which then prompted me to read the entire Maze Runner series by James Dashner. The movie was set up in such a way that made you want to know what happens next.
Now here we are a year later, and the sequel, The Scorch Trials, based on the second novel of the Maze Runner series, has now been released. The film is directed by Wes Ball, the same director of the first film, and who will also direct the third film. Several actors return to reprise their roles, including Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, while we get a few new additions to the cast, including Aidan Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, and Alan Tudyk.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials picks up where the previous film left off, with the teens being seemingly rescued from WCKD and the maze. But we know from how the first film ended that that’s not exactly the case, and that it’s just WCKD pretending to rescue them. At first, the teens think everything is well and good, but then Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) soon discovers that something isn’t right. He figures out that they’re still in the clutches of WCKD, and he and his friends embark on a dangerous journey across the desert to try to reach a safe haven in the mountains, all while trying to evade not only WCKD, but the “Cranks” who have contracted the Flare virus.
When I first saw The Maze Runner, it was a bit of an abnormal situation for me, as I didn’t read the book until after I saw the movie. Usually I like to read the book first. This time around, I had read the book, although it had been nearly a year prior (but I had gotten about 1/4 of the way through re-reading it by the time I saw Scorch Trials, so some of it was fresh in my mind). So now having read the entire series, and seen the two movies that have been released thus far, it’s really odd to me how closely the first film is based on the first book, while Scorch Trials is so far off base from its own counterpart.
Of course, I understand that sometimes you have to change the story up a little and leave some things out so that it can fit in the limited time that a movie has. The first movie did a good job with that. But with Scorch Trials, I felt like they changed things so much that you could only call this installment “loosely” based on the second novel. I wouldn’t have had as much of a problem with that if the new aspects of the storyline actually made sense in the context of the movie. But as it stands, the Scorch “Trials” didn’t even end up being trials! I also felt like they changed the “Cranks” into something that they weren’t meant to be by making them into zombies, which seemed to me like a play at latching on to the zombie craze that’s popular right now. Then the way the movie ended, knowing what’s supposed to happen in the next book, I’m not sure where they’re going to go from here for the next movie.
Yes, there were some recognizable scenes in the movie that came from the book. I was even on board at the beginning to see where they took things. But it just kept going on a downhill spiral and had so many things that didn’t add up. Yes, there was quite a lot of action, much more so than the book, but it almost felt like they were sacrificing the story for the sake of adding in that action.
This is not to take away from the performances that the actors put in. Once again, Dylan O’Brien gave a great performance as Thomas, and he continues to be one of my favorite up and coming actors (whereas he had not really been on my radar prior to the first movie). I thought the casting of Aiden Gillen as Janson was brilliant. Any Game of Thrones fan would have appreciated this, as we all know Littlefinger always has an ulterior motive, something up his sleeve. It was cool to see Gus Fring, I mean, Giancarlo Esposito, in action again, and a nice surprise to see Wash — er, Alan Tudyk, pop up.
Would I have had such an issue with the movie had I not read the books? Hard to say, but I did feel that someone who hadn’t read the books would also think there were a lot of things that didn’t make sense story wise. I just hope that this problem can be rectified in the final installment.
My rating: 6/10