Friday, September 25, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Review

First and foremost, I want to thanks this movie for doing something with the title that really bothered me with The Hobbit movies. They got rid of the extra "the" in the title. With The Hobbit movies, they titled them THE Hobbit: THE Battle of the Five Armies or THE Hobbit: THE Desolation of Smaug (emphasis added). Too many "the's."  Battle of the Five Armies or Desolation of Smaug would've been just fun. With this movie, they could've titled it The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, but they didn't. They dropped that first "the" and now it's just Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. That flows better. Anywho, with that out of the way, if you remember my review of The Maze Runner from last year, you'll know that I was pleasantly surprised and entertained for most of the movie. I loved the suspense and mystery of it. I loved the simplicity of the story. I loved all of our young actors. But then the reveal happened at the end and we come to learn that this is in fact the same exact story as all the other recent dystopian movies. Huge let down. Sure, they had a few unique twists, but not enough to make me intrigued and most of those unique twists were just weird. So it lost me. I went into The Scorch Trials hoping that this middle chapter would reel me back in. I'm not going to lie, there were parts of the movie that I found really interesting. But for the most part, no. It didn't bring me back. The things that made The Maze Runner interesting are gone and the things that made The Maze Runner dull are magnified. Very disappointing.

If you haven't read or seen The Maze Runner, I will warn you that I will be spoiling that movie a bit. In order to talk about the sequel, I do need to reference what happened in the first one in order to explain to you my thoughts about this sequel. If you don't want the first one spoiled, then feel free to stop reading, go watch that movie, and come back to read my thoughts on The Scorch Trials. If you have seen that one or you just don't care about spoilers, then let's carry on. At the end of the first movie, our group of kids have escaped the maze. They come face to face with our villains, but are rescued from this group of villains by some unknown group of people. That's how our movie ends. Well, The Scorch Trials picks up by our group of heroes being sent to this facility with a lot of other kids who have survived other mazes. Apparently there was a lot of them and after separating the wheat from the chaffs, we now have this new group of kids who are being rewarded with this great facility with good food, soft beds, and all that fun jazz that they didn't have in the mazes. Well, of course you know something is off. The biggest clue is that we have still have a trilogy to finish and we're just in the start of the second one. So we are surrounded with mystery once again. Kinda. I wasn't the least bit intrigued by this because it's extremely obvious what's going on even though the movie thinks its being smart, it's really not smart at all this time around. Of course we have to escape this place and our main group of kids from the first one, with some added newcomers, do escape. There's just nothing really to escape to. It's this huge, empty desert devoid of any signs life. The scorch. Thus we have the bulk of our movie.

There are a lot of problems with this movie. The first problem is what I just talked about. The beginning of this movie is really a piece of junk. It tries to be suspenseful and mysterious with what is going on, but it fails in a huge way. You see right through from the very beginning and thus you wonder why there are only two out of like a hundred or more kids that realize that something isn't right. Every single kid in that building should realize that they were just trapped in a huge maze by this crazy company and now they are locked up in this sketchy facility. But they all just buy into it? Why? Come on kids! Finally our hero wises up and our main group of people somehow escape. Given the situation, it makes no sense on how they were able to escape. It should've been a lot harder. But they do and now we are onto the scorch. I don't know why we have to call it the scorch. Why not just the desert or the wasteland? Words that normal human beings use. But whatever. There are some interesting things that happen in the scorch. Specifically they randomly come across a pack of zombies. Except they aren't called zombies. I can't even remember what they are called. Why not just zombies, though? Why do we have to give them fancy titles that aren't in our current vocabulary? Zombies would've worked. But whatever. Not long after being in the scorch and going through some intense scenes that kinda made me interested, it hit me. This is Catching Fire all over again.

Catching Fire, of course, is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy, or the second of four movies in the movie franchise. Great book. Great movie. But come on, Scorch Trials. Can't you do something different? In Catching Fire, we are back in the arena and before too long our characters learn that the arena is a big clock with different obstacles in each section that they have to avoid. In The Scorch Trials, they aren't in an arena and thus the wasteland they are in isn't a designed thing, but as they go further and further, there are more and more obstacles that they have to avoid. It's the same exact premise! The titles are even similar. "Fire" and "Scorch." Really? After a few fun zombie scenes, I was gone. The other problem that I had that relates to this is that this movie was way too complex. The Maze Runner had a simple premise. A group of kids are caught in a maze and they have to get out. That was it. Simple. I liked that simplicity. Had The Scorch Trials spent most of the movie out in the scorch, I may have been slightly intrigued by that premise. We would've had a beginning where we were in the facility, a middle where we were in the scorch, and an ending where something happened in the last ten minutes or so once we escaped the scorch. Nope. The scorch part is only part two of like five or six sections. So much happened in this movie and it was just way too much. I was mentally gone halfway through. I'm not saying this movie should've been shorter. But it should've been more focused. Simpler. You can probably blame the book for that one.

Now let's talk about these characters. Right off the bat we are without our two most interesting characters, Chuck and Gally, who were played by Blake Cooper and Will Poulter respectively. Granted this wasn't the movie's fault. The author decided to write them off in book one. I don't have a problem with some characters not surviving. That makes things more realistic and suspenseful. But if you are going to kill off two of your best characters in the first movie, make sure you have some interesting characters that can pick up the slack in the second one. I liked Dylan O'Brien as Thomas and Kaya Scodelario as Teresa. They both were really good leads in the first one and still are really good leads in this one. But that's it. The supporting cast of kids really aren't that interesting. We have some of the side characters from the first one that I didn't care too much about and we add some new side characters that I also don't really care too much about. Thus we just have a mostly bland, uninteresting cast. Speaking of cast, we also did something in this one that really frustrated me. One good thing about the first one was that there WASN'T a love triangle. For a big chunk of the movie, it was just guys in a maze. Then the girl showed up. Instantly you think a love triangle is going to form, but it doesn't. Kudos to the movie. However, in the second half of The Scorch Trials, we introduce a second girl. Boom. Love triangle. They couldn't resist. I suppose they tried to make it clever by being a love triangle between a guy and two girls instead of vice versa, but a love triangle is a love triangle and I didn't buy it and I refused to "take a side." I never really cared about our new girl. I kinda lost interest in our old girl. Honestly, I also started to lose interest in our main guy. When I have no one to latch onto, that's a big problem.

Is there anything worthwhile in this movie? Sure. Like I said, the zombie scenes got my attention. They show up on multiple occasions throughout the movie, thus kinda making this movie a zombie apocalypse movie. Compared to other zombie apocalypse movies, it wasn't that great. No where near the likes of Warm Bodies or World War Z from a couple years back. But it was entertaining and thus provided something for me to enjoy. There also were a few things in the end of the movie that I enjoyed. I don't want to talk much about them for obvious reasons, but we have a "final battle" of sorts that was entertaining and we also some really interesting themes that make you question who's actually in the wrong in this situation. That's all I'm going to say about those. But right after that had me almost thinking the movie was going to end on a high note, it did something really stupid that made me frustrated. So yeah, not a total waste of time, but not what I was hoping for. Another positive is that I'm still way more interested in this franchise that the Divergent franchise. Divergent started off below average and took a huge nosedive with Insurgent. The Maze Runner started off as average and has turned into below average with The Scorch Trials. So that's a plus. I guess. If I were forced to watch either Insurgent or The Scorch Trials again, I'd definitely pick The Scorch Trials. But still, my grade for the movie is a disappointing 6/10.

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