Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Movie Review: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

The sequel in this young adult post-apocalyptic series expands on the world beyond the maze into the resulting zombie-infested hellscape know as the Scorch.The film picks up where the last one left off with Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and the Gladers flying from the shutdown maze facility to a new safe place. They meet the mysterious Janson (Aidan Gillen) who first appears to be trustworthy but is obviously concealing secrets. While Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) are happy to have beds, Thomas is concerned where the scientists separate Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) from the group. Thomas causes mischief trying to figure out what is going on and catches the eye of another kid Aris (Jacob Lofland) who is also suspicious of what is going on. 

By crawling through the ventilation, Thomas and Aris discover that Janson and his men are performing experiments on the other young men and women. Aris recognizes a woman who was with him in the maze and they overhear Janson consulting with Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson). Thomas becomes determined to find Teresa and escape. He rallies his fellow Gladers and they make their way out pursued by soldiers and Janson. Thomas and Aris lead the group out into the Scorch. They escape into the desert and find refuge in abandoned buildings. Newt is distressed to learn that Thomas doesn't have a plan but those arguments fall by the wayside when zombies appear and chase them. They flee but lose a member to infection. 

Lightning begins to strike and the Gladers flee towards a light. Minho gets struck but survives and they encounter a bunch of chained zombies. Brenda (Rosa Salazar) appears and directs them through the protections to Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito). He plans to profit from the valuable kids and hangs them up but all of his plans are changed when Janson, troops, and helicopters arrive. The Gladers escape out a zip line but Thomas and Brenda are separated as Jorge sets off explosions. Thomas and Brenda escape but find themselves lost among the dilapidated buildings. Infected cranks chase after them up into a collapsed skyscraper and barely survive. Brenda is bitten and starts to exhibit signs of the infection.

Thomas and Brenda find a dance club Martin (Alan Tudyk) though he disguises his identity and forces them to drink a hallucinogenic substance to enter. They comply and Thomas has revelations of his past. He wakes up to find Jorge torturing Martin for the location of a secret army. They take Martin's car and head out to the mountains. They are attacked but realize that they are friends including women who were in the maze with Aris like Harriet (Nathalie Emmanuel). They bring them to the camp where Mary (Lili Taylor) informs them that she can use Thomas's blood to cure Brenda. Vince (Barry Pepper) runs the camp and welcomes the Gladers but Teresa has betrayed them and Janson arrives with Ava. Thomas manages to escape with Jorge, Vince, Brenda, Newt, and others but Minho, Aris, and more captured. The film ends with Thomas promising to fight back and save his friends.

The Scorch Trials goes beyond the maze and shows what happened to the world due to solar flares. The action is entertaining and I enjoyed that they added zombies. Dylan O'Brien's acting still has a long way to go but veterans like Esposito, Gillen, Clarkson, Tudyk, Taylor, Pepper, and others help elevate the young cast. The special effects looked decent enough and the story has enough mystery to propel the plot along even as it falls into standard fair with a typical chosen one storyline. The Maze Runner series has some definite flaws but I find plenty to enjoy. 

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