Movie Review – Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

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MV5BMjE3MDU2NzQyMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzQxMDQ3NTE@._V1_SX214_AL_Just like the first one in the series, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is better than it looks.  Director Wes Ball brings back Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his Glader friends (Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster) for another awesome adventure in the post-apocalyptic world.

Following their escape from the Glade and the Maze and mysterious organization called W.K.C.D. (read: wicked), the Gladers are initially grateful for having been rescued.  They’re taken by their rescuers to a heavily guarded facility and meet the other escapees, provided shower, clean clothes, food and bed.  Amidst the secured environment and assurance by the head of the facility (Aiden Gillen), something is off, however.

A loner, Aris (Jacob Lofland) flags Thomas and together they make an unsavory discovery.  They are not safe after all.  The kids are being kept alive temporarily for a reason.  The Gladers, joined Ares and a few new kids (Dexter Draden, Alexander Flores) make a run for the outside world in the nick of time.

That outside world is the scorch, a ruined city surrounded and partially immersed in sands.  The group seeks shelter in a dark and dilapidated structure.  They scour the building for things they could equip themselves to make their desolate trek to the mountains in the hopes of joining the Right Arm, a resistance movement, and finding a safe haven.  The light switches on, but before they could breathe a sigh of relief, some things are coming out of the woodwork.  The undead.  If “The Maze Runner” has Grievers, “The Scorch Trials” has Cranks, which are just as terrifying.  They escape, but not without one of their own infected with the Flare virus.

Daylight breaks and the Gladers make their perilous journey across an arid, then unpredictably stormy desert.  They run into a compound filled with another cluster of survivors, find themselves in another trouble, make allies (Rosa Salazar, Giancario Esposito) and barely make it out alive after the compound is attacked.  The group gets separated before eventually reunited.  But not without more trials and twists, physically and emotionally.

The set pieces are vast and varied.  Actions relentless.  Sprinting, sliding, falling, climbing, leaping and dangling for dear lives, navigating rubbles and tunnels.  Not to mention getting bitten, shot at and strung up.  There’s one particularly thrilling sequence involving a pursuit and struggle with a Crank on a precarious glass piece of a crumbled skyscraper hundreds of feet in the air.  Another one is the vines-covered Cranks.  The jump scares are used effectively.

O’Brien shows charisma and commitment to the role.  Thomas is smart, curious and quick on his feet.  A natural-born leader with a combination of instinct and ferocity.  Even as he’s unsure of  what’s to come, he moves forward with determination.

While “Scorch Trials” is mostly an action movie, it maintains the underlying theme of clash of ideals.  In the first installment, between safety and comfort versus risk and freedom.  Here we’re faced with a moral dilemma as well.  At what point human sacrifice is no longer worth it?  What about if you truly believe it’s for the greater good?

I look forward to the next round of scares and thrills.  The third installment in the trilogy, “The Death Cure” will be released on February 17, 2017.  It should be worth the long wait.

Copyright (c) 2015. Nathalia Aryani

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at

Courtesy Arnold Gatilao via Creative Commons License 2.0 

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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