Doesn’t “Scorch Trials” sound painful?
I’m not sure when all these dystopian future stories became all the rage, but for those of you under the age of 25, watch out! This seems to be the future too many of us adults think is coming your way. When The Maze Runner was released in 2014, it didn’t garner the attention that The Hunger Games or even Divergent did. However, I think Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and its predecessor is a better series, so far, than Divergent, and even gives old Katniss Everdeen a run for her money.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends have escaped the maze. They find out that a nefarious group called WCKD (pronounced “wicked”), yeah I know a bit much, had been monitoring them like guinea pigs in some sick experiment. Are they finally free? Not so fast. As soon as they open the doors to the outside world, masked gunmen take the group to what appears to be a haven, with others who are also immune to the Flare virus that killed off most of the planet. But old Thomas isn’t buying the “you are safe here with us” line, and discovers that they may be in even more danger than they were in the maze.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, is a damned fine film. And if you liked the first one, you will love the sequel. The film drops you right in where The Maze Runner left off, with Thomas, Minho (Ki Hong Lee, The Stanford Prison Experiment), Teresa (Kaya Scoldelario, Moon), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangser, Nanny McPhee), and Frypan (Dexter Darden, Cadillac Records), don’t judge, Frypan is a perfectly legit name in a dystopian future, being swept up by mysterious men in masks, promising to keep them safe from WCKD.
The kids are taken to a facility run by a Mr. Janson, played by Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones), where each day he reads off a list of the names of the “lucky” few, who are supposed to be taken to some utopic land where they can live happily ever after. Remember the part about this being a dystopian future? Happiness is just not in the cards.
Dylan O’Brien is impressive as Thomas, he brings a certain believability to the role, and a sincerity that works so very well for the character. It makes sense that a group of disparate kids would follow a guy so sure of himself, but humble at the same time. Thomas believes in the adage, ‘no man left behind,’ which at times works to his detriment. It’s Thomas’ immediate skepticism and determination that keeps the group going, when they would have otherwise given up. And it’s O’Brien’s performance that really moves the film along.
The rest of the cast is just as strong. Beside Aiden Gillen’s fabulous performance as bad guy extraordinaire Janson, there’s Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island) as Ava Paige, she is wonderfully cold and calculating as the leader of WCKD. She plays a doctor whose sole focus is to find a cure for The Flare, but she’s lost the humanity needed for an endeavor like that. Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), is spot on in his portrayal of Jorge, the leader of a rag-tag group of survivors, living off the grid in an abandoned warehouse where they hope to stay off of WCKD’s radar. Not only is he one of my favorite actors, I just love the way his name rolls off the tongue. It really is fun to say, go ahead try it at least 3 times in a row to get the full effect.
Rosa Salazar is rounds things out as Brenda, a member of the warehouse group, and the daughter figure to leader Jorge. Salazar is good, and knows how to act in a film full of bleakness and Totalitarianism, because she is also in the Divergent series.
I really did enjoy Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, far more than I ever thought I would. Up until I watched the film, I had made it one of my life’s goal to avoid it like the plague; I mean really, how many more depressing stories about the future can one person stomach. But I have these 3 kids, and they were intent on making their folks sit through yet another futuristic movie about young people cleaning up the mistakes of adults.
Let me just say, if you want a movie filled with exciting action, a good script, and really top notch acting, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the movie for you. I’m glad my kids talked us into it, and we are all looking forward to the next installment.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Blu-ray) is a wonderful 2.40:1 Widescreen (1080p) transfer, with crisp images of a future that provides little hope. Director Wes Ball does a great job using color, blacks, greys, and blues to show the bleakness of the times. The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio contains a great soundtrack that supports the scenes without being intrusive. Extras include, the featurettes: “Janson’s Report –Classified Debriefing Videos, and Secrets of the Scorch: 6 Part Documentary. Other special features are, Audio Commentary, Deleted and Extended Scenes, a Gag Reel, Visual Effects Reel, and the film’s Storyboards.
Every time I think we’ve reached the saturation point on this genre, another book I’ve never heard of is made into a major motion picture. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials proves that, at least so far, too much is not enough.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Blu-ray)
2016, Fox, 129 minutes, PG-13 (2015)
VIDEO: 2.40:1 (1080p) AUDIO: DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French), Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
SUBTITLES: English (SDH), French, Spanish
EXTRAS: Commentary, Extended/Deleted Scenes, Documentary, Featurettes, Storyboards, Gag Reel, DVD Copy, Digital Copy ACCOMPLICES: IMDB