Movie Date: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
STARRING: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Aidan Gillen
DIRECTOR: Wes Ball
THE SKINNY: Although they have escaped from the deadly maze, Thomas (O’Brien) and friends are still being hunted by WCKD. Not only do they have the mysterious organisation on their back, but they also need to survive in a harsh new environment called the Scorch.
My main problem with Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is that there's no maze.
There was a maze in the first movie and last year's The Maze Runner, and that was awesome.
There aren't many movies about escaping from mazes, so The Maze Runner had its own thing.
Not only does this sequel have no maze, it's like the maze might as well never have existed. It becomes incidental to the story.
This time around, it's just Thomas and company running around in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Evil government agents are hunting them down and zombies are trying to bite them. It's a hopelessly generic sci-fi "plot".
It's basically Resident Evil without Milla Jovovich - and Jovovich was the only thing that made Resident Evil worth watching.
These Maze Runner kids are bland and generic, displaying almost no personality at all.
This is particularly pronounced with leading man O'Brien. He's so lively and engaging as Stiles on TV series Teen Wolf but here, they've tried to turn him into a strong and silent type.
It's a total waste of his talents.
Scorch Trials is overlong with a running time of more than two hours and by the end, I was relieved it was over.
If they get a chance to make another one, I just hope it's more like the first film and not this inferior maze-less follow-up.
I, on the other hand, feel O'Brien should make more movies.
He has a natural charisma that makes him a good leading man.
It also helps that he's pleasing to the eye.
What I liked about this sequel is that unlike other young-adult flicks, it doesn't focus on any romance between the male and female protagonists.
Here, it's all about survival, camaraderie and loyalty.
There's still a big puzzle: What's the conspiracy that makes our young heroes such priced "commodities"?
But the driving force of The Maze Runner movies, particularly here, is the bond and trust between friends - and the strong performances from the entire cast ensure that message is delivered.
The story unravels neatly, with sufficient tension and thrills.
While the mood is more sombre now and there's a far wider scope, director Ball deserves a huge pat on the back for keeping The Scorch Trials moving through the well-paced action sequences.
The set pieces are also grander and more impressive now, although some feel recycled from other similar flicks.
I really hope Ball will keep to his word that if he returns as director, the concluding episode won't be split into two parts - the norm these days.
This series works because it is kinetic and sharp.