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By Genevieve Mc Bride

Knowing my love of reading, a friend of mine suggested I read The Maze Runner by James Dashner a few years ago. I had just finished reading Hunger Games so, honestly, I was burned out on post-apocalyptic survival stories so I set it aside. However, being familiar with the title, my interest was piqued when the movie was announced and I found myself drawn into the story more than I expected when I screened The Maze Runner movie in 2014. It didn’t have the desperate drama of The Hunger Games, but the mystery of the maze was intriguing enough.

If you haven’t seen the first movie in this series, you’ll want to watch that first as Scorch Trials picks up pretty much where the last movie ended. There are no recaps or flashbacks which fans may appreciate as the full 2 hours and 12 minute running time is dedicated to advancing the story, but it’s definitely not a movie that stands well on its own.

Having escaped from the Glade, Thomas and his somber band of Gladers are transported to a fortified military installation where for a brief moment they believe they’re safe from Ava Paige and WCKD, the mysterious organization that placed them in the Glade for reasons still unknown.

Suspicious and untrusting (by nature, or conditioning?), Thomas, played with grim determination by Dylan O’Brien, uncovers the outpost’s connection to WCKD and the gang is on the run again but this time, instead of a maze, they find themselves in a desolate landscape known as the Scorch.

If the first movie was “The Great Escape”, this movie is “The Amazing Race”. Hoping to find “The Right Hand”, a vigilante group of resistance fighters that have allegedly rescued other Gladers, Thomas and gang set out across a barren wasteland. The movie follows their desperate flight to avoid both WCKD operatives and “cranks”, zombies who were victims of a virus that has wiped out most of humanity.

I watched most of The Scorch Trials, much like I watch The Walking Dead, with my eyes clenched shut but still listening earnestly, but I’m a bit of a wimp that way. There’s definitely more action in this installment and those who enjoyed the first movie, will appreciate this one more even though the last 20 minutes or so of the movie was set up for the third Maze Runner: The Death Cure due in 2017.

The core band of Gladers, played by O’Brien,  Kaya Scodelario (Teresa), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt), Ki Hong Lee (Minho), Dexter Darden (Frypan) and Alexander Flores (Winston) are easy to root for, while Game of Thrones’ Aiden Gillen (Janson) and Patricia Clarkson, who reprises her role as Ava Paige, are very easy to dislike. The Scorch Trials introduces new characters, like Aris another maze escapee played by Jacob Lofland, and  Brenda and Jorge, survivors turned mercenaries played by Rosa Salazar and Giancarlo Esposito who add a new dimension to the story. Will they help lead the Gladers to The Right Hand or turn them over to WCKD for the right price?

In addition to nearly maiming my husband by squeezing his hand too tight, I also left the movie a little winded from holding my breath in suspense, and watching these kids do a hell of a lot of running. A worthy sequel, The Scorch Trials definitely leaves you ready for the story to continue.

3.5 out of 5 stars

 

Second Review By James Buckles

 

Let’s start off with praise. Here is a well done script, great effects, actors I like in various shows and movies and found some new ones that I will follow. Now let’s get down the fun stuff. I went in and watched The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials without knowing it was the second in the series. I really enjoyed it even though I did not know the back story.

The bad part of not knowing there was a movie before is that it comes across as choppy and is missing some plot points, but was able to follow most of the story. But the movie is enjoyable despite the missing plot points.

Now that I’ve reviewed the first movie, the synopsis makes perfect sense. Watching it out of order leads you along the tale at a breakneck pace, and watching the first Maze Runner after not only adds to the plot but almost makes you yearn for the next installment.

All in all, I suggest watching it even if you have to go back and watch the first movie afterwards. Potentially destined to be a cult classic, many will want to have nights watching the series with friends. My biggest worry is that people will compare just this movie to another trilogy hit based on teens that came out of the closet not too long ago and The Maze Runner will be overlooked.

4 stars out of 5

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