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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Review

By Matthew Passantino

Mazed and Confused

I miss the maze.

Last year's "The Maze Runner" was a surprising addition to the well-worn young adult adaptation genre set in a dystopian future. Though thematically familiar to previous YA adaptations, "The Maze Runner" was thrilling and shrouded in a great mystery. There was a palpable sense of restlessness and claustrophobia as the young inhabitants of The Glade were surrounded by a giant moving maze. It was entertaining stuff.

"Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" features no maze, but brings the young protagonists to the bleak outside world. The sequel features more characters and stories, thus extending the runtime to a meandering, get-to-the-end-already 131 minutes. Also, it would have been nice if someone could have stopped to explain what a Scorch Trial was, since they had 131 minutes to do so.

Dylan O'Brien leads the pack, again, as Thomas. Some of his friends from The Glade join him in the outside world, including, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and Frypan (Dexter Darden). Once they break free of the evil adults, who are collectively known as WCKD, they must run for their lives before the organization catches them. Patricia Clarkson, cool and icy, returns as Ava Paige, in a character that will hopefully be expanded in the inevitable sequels. She is the mastermind behind WCKD and has the opportunity to be an interesting foil for Thomas and his crew, if these stories ever develop her more (I have not read the James Dashner novels from which the movies are adapted).


In their quest for a safe life outside of The Glade, Thomas and his friends run into a variety of people and zombies. "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trial" spends a good amount of time wallowing in zombie movie tropes, adding nothing new or exciting to the idea of running from zombies.

Giancarlo Esposito shows up in the last act as Jorge, who at one point kidnaps Thomas and his friends, along with his daughter-type, Brenda (Rosa Salazar), but then ends up helping them against WCKD. Esposito shows up a bit too late, but does add a bit of spark and mystery to the movie, which is often lacking in sufficient energy.

Wes Ball returns as director and is very capable of making a solid action film. There are a few thrilling set-pieces throughout the movie, but the elongated running time suffocates any of the action. T.S. Nowlin returns as the screenwriter and never finds a smooth way to add new characters or give any of the supporting players enough depth to be interesting.

What made "The Maze Runner" so entertaining was the inherent mystery built within the story. Why are these kids in The Glade? What is happening outside of the maze? It kept us guessing until the end - with a ballyhooed-by-most reveal - but it was something I didn't see coming. "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" just goes through the motions of a sequel, trying too hard to top the previous installment.

At one point, one of the characters reflects on their current situation and longs to be back in The Glade. Me too.

What did you think?

Movie title Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Release year 2015
MPAA Rating PG-13
Our rating
Summary This sequel fails to capitalize on what made "The Maze Runner" so much fun.
View all articles by Matthew Passantino
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