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The Scorch Trials Loses Its Path in the Maze

Ben Atwater

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In an age where studios are consistently battling each other by replicating movies, the young adult genre has been most subject to this.

Dylan O’Brien stars in The Scorch Trials(AP photo)

Dylan O’Brien stars in The Scorch Trials(AP photo)

Starting with Twilight in 2008, a slew of franchises have started (or attempted to start) in order to capitalize on the trend. From Divergent to The Host, these films consistently make money with one caveat: they aren’t all that good. Save for The Hunger Games series, all of these adaptations have reeked of low production qualities of novels that copy off one another.

Last year, The Maze Runner came out. Based off James Dashner’s novel, The Maze Runner was a refreshing entry in the genre, as it was not bogged down by convoluted subplots, forced romances, or poor special effects. What the The Maze Runner did well was recreating a Hobbesian experiment seen previously in Lord of the Flies.

The premise was simple: each month, a boy would be sprung up from the ground into an enclosed area known as the Glade. Surrounded by an unsolvable maze, these boys formed their own society with rules and regulations that kept them in order.

Yet when Thomas comes into the Glade, everything changes. Without summarizing the events of The Maze Runner, the film ends with the boys escaping the Glade and maze to find the outside world a post-apocalyptic dessert. That is where the first film ends.

The second film, based off the second book, is called The Scorch Trials. Picking up right where the first film ends, Thomas and the other boys are taken in by a militaristic group that takes them to a secure compound, where they are supposedly waiting to be sent to a safe place. However, Thomas soon learns that they are being held by the very company that put them in the maze, WCKD.

The head of WCKD, Janson, harvests the kids they take in from WCKD’s mazes for an enzyme in their blood that treats the Flare virus. The Flare is a disease developed after the massive solar storm that has destroyed the planet. The flare turns its victims into Crankers. Not wanting to be held captive, Thomas and the gang escape from the compound to the desert world on a mission to find the resistance fighting WCKD. The rest of the film is Thomas and company making their way through the world, encountering Crankers, harsh elements of the sun scorched world, and other survivors who either help them or try to kill them.

Right off the bat, The Scorch Trials is a huge disappointment. Every new challenge the boys face just pops up out of nowhere to move along the story. Most of the characters are rather one note, and not developed in the least. The film continuously tries to keep setting up for a larger universe. While that is fine, there is no use in doing so if proper time and care isn’t given to developing the plot and characters in the current film.

A good post-apocalyptic film is believable, has good characters, and should focus on hope in an otherwise hopeless world.

The Scorch Trials attempts to have these elements but fails due to poor pacing and dialogue. There are some redeeming qualities, most notably Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito, who plays a gang leader that helps Thomas along the way. Yet the film becomes more and more convoluted, trying to introduce subplots regarding WCKD and what has happened before the events of either film. The Scorch Trials, if anything, makes The Maze Runner seem worse, as it brings up even more plot holes for the first film.

So, if you are a diehard fan of the book series, this movie might be for you. Yet for the average college student, save The Scorch Trials for Netflix. At times the production quality is that of a sci-fi original movie, and definitely will leave you disappointed having paid $10 and spending two and a half hours to watch a subpar action film.

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The Scorch Trials Loses Its Path in the Maze