Handle the Burn: Dylan O’Brien, right, Alexander Flores, and Jacob Lofland hide from the enemy WCKD (Fox Pictures).
Imagine you are running. Running, not being able to stop, for fear of them catching you. Always looking over your shoulder, always checking the dark spaces, and waiting for the next bad guy to make his move.
This, combined with a few comedic scenes, comprises “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.”
Plot-wise, “The Scorch Trials” begins where “The Maze Runner” left off. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), along with his gang, Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), have just escaped the maze that WCKD (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department) created “for the greater good,” as they say.
WCKD has been striving to create a cure for the Flare, a dystopian disease that is slowly wiping out the entire world’s population. WCKD’s scientists believe that the answer lies within the anatomy of teenagers and children, and that their blood enables them to be immune from the Flare.
Thomas and friends meet Janson (Aiden Gillen), the seemingly benevolent leader of an army-type fortress that contains other teenagers that came from other mazes. The fortress serves to protect what’s left of the world’s healthy people safe from the dry, blistering life outside, known as the Scorch.
Thomas, Minho, Teresa and Newt, along with a few new friends, discover that Janson and his fortress aren’t actually shipping the dozens of other survivors to a safer place. Instead it turns out that Janson is working for WCKD, the very organization that Thomas and company fled.
Escaping from Janson and WCKD does not prove to be an easy feat. Outside, in the Scorch, inexplicable lightning storms strike constantly; and Cranks (zombie-like beings that are a result of the Flare) are lying in wait.
So, for the rest of the movie, Thomas and his group are basically running. They’re running from WCKD, from Cranks, and from the terrifying people that they meet along the way.
Honestly, all of the running was exhausting. Not just for the characters, but for the viewers as well. It never stopped; there was no break from the action. As an audience member, I felt like I had to constantly be on red alert, anticipating what Thomas and crew would have to run from next. It was almost like a real-life Knott’s Scary Farm, but in a movie theatre.
O’Brien did a wicked job playing the role of Thomas. It became obvious that all of Thomas’s actions for the benefit of others, especially for his friends. Lee and Brodie-Sangster were also brilliant as second-in-commands but I felt the script limited their possibilities.
Lastly, the cinematography and special effects were both beautiful and scary. The Cranks were perfectly terrifying, the wasteland-like Scorch was absolutely blistering and the intricacies of the camera work added another level to potentially one-dimensional sets.
If you were expecting a carbon copy of the book, you will be disappointed. If you like action-packed movies on steroids, however, this is the film for you.