The Scorch Trials, directed by Wes Ball, is the second installment in the Maze Runner series, a science-fiction action series that takes place in a dystopian future. The series uses many of the classic tropes of its genre, including a zombie-like virus, an evil corporation, and modern cities lying in ruins. The Scorch Trials is adapted from the young-adult novel of the same name by James Dashner. While the movie doesn’t add much in the way of originality to its genre, it still manages to be a fun watch.
The Scorch Trials picks up directly where The Maze Runner left off, with lead protagonist Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers being taken to a facility where they believe they will be safe from the corporation W.C.K.D (pronounced “wicked”). They soon discover that things there are not as they seem, and within a few days, the Gladers find themselves in a mad dash across a desert, trying to reach the mountains where they believe rebel fighters will help them. Along the way, they encounter zombie-like victims of the Flare virus, called “Cranks,” a community of heavily-armed survivors and drug-addicted people smugglers.
Viewers who have read the book will notice drastic differences between the movie and its source material, both in the plot and in certain aspects of the story’s background, such as the Flare virus. However, these changes do not get in the way of the plot. While the story ends up being very different, the plot still more or less makes sense and the roles of the various characters remain unchanged. However, fans of the books may be disappointed in the lack of faithfulness to the source material.
The main failing of The Scorch Trials is in its inability to stand alone as a movie. It relies heavily on the emotional attachments to characters that were formed in The Maze Runner to help the audience care about the same characters in the sequel. Characters that were very important in The Maze Runner, particularly Newt and Minho, were relegated to being side characters in The Scorch Trials. Though they received comparatively little screen time and did almost nothing to help advance the plot, the audience is still expected to be concerned for their safety during certain tense moments.
The lead protagonist, Thomas, is also a little difficult to like sometimes. He treats his friends more like soldiers under his command than peers. Thomas’ plans don’t always work and he frequently misjudges the situation that they’re in, so it’s hard to believe that there’s never conflict within the group about what to do.
However, The Scorch Trials manages to be one of those movies that is satisfying despite having many flaws. The action sequences are well-planned and it never lacks for suspense, so fans of action movies will likely walk away satisfied.
The Scorch Trials is still playing at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville and at the Galaxy 16 in Cedar Rapids.
Katherine Uhlenkamp, Arts & Entertainment Editor