Friday 25 September 2015

The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

"The maze is one thing, but you kids won't last one day out in the scorch."

I thought that with the end of ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise (one that I’m not completely against like some but certainly not worshiping like others) this year the whole teen-apocalypse genre would be put to rest for a few more years. Wow was I wrong, actually this intro may just be a rehash of the one I did for the first ‘Maze Runner’ film, but frankly I can’t remember properly and I’m sure readers won’t be able to tell either. Oddly it’s this kind of thinking that permeates this franchise.
Having escaped the deadly maze, the group of teenage survivors think they have left the horror behind them. But now they face an even greater danger as they make their way across the scorched earth.
Look as well as the slew of young adult apocalypse movies we’re going to get this year, as well as the rest that are yet to come, all now become irrelevant. Look at what Mad Max: Fury Road’ did to their apocalyptic world and now nothing else looks even remotely close by comparison. Whether it be backed up by real psychological and scientific studies or just George Miller’s mad mind, for some reason I buy that universe, out of all of them I could see the one in ‘Mad Max’ actually happening. Maybe through detail maybe through character, but next to that I don’t buy into an apocalyptic world in which teenagers are put into arenas, or mazes, or sorted into factions where you’re either smart, strong, skilful or something else and if you combine more than one attribute you’re a ‘Divergent’ even though the true definition of that is Convergent, where was I?
In a similar vein to the first ‘Maze Runner’ movie the first half of this film is actually quite impressive. It’s fast paced, well directed, good performances and some genuinely exciting moments. However when it reached the halfway point, like the first one, it just screeched to a sudden and startling halt in favour of setting up yet another sequel. The pace and suspense that populated the first half were gone by vague questions and convoluted plot developments that are clearly there just to deliberately leave the door as widely open as it possibly can. At this rate you’d have a better job pitching this story as a TV miniseries as everything is so episodic and nonsensical in the form of a feature film.
Another reason why the suspense and pace dissipates in the second half was because for me it once again began to dawn on me that these characters simply aren’t going anywhere. Interesting set pieces and scenarios will only keep audiences hooked for so long, after that I was expecting some more personal or emotional dilemmas form these characters, something for me to care about their situation, hope that they make it out of this scenario. But nothing of the sort occurs and I’m left watching people I don’t care about walk across ruins for another hour. Dylan O Brien is commendable with the material, but as far as depth goes his character challenges the status quo and shakes the system, but what else? I don’t know. Say what you will about Katniss, but the writing and Jenifer Lawrence managed to show her inner turmoil amid revolutions and fights to the death, ‘Maze Runner’ doesn’t succeed on that front.
There are also far too many elements borrowed from other films. Not just other YA apocalypse films either but movies of a completely different nature. Take this example, as they’re on the run from hordes of zombie-like creatures, the kids find refuge in an abandoned shopping mall. A random yet still obvious reference to ‘Dawn of the Dead’ or a wild coincidence that was not spotted or acknowledged as no one’s heard of that film on set because they’re all fourteen years old.
We’ve still got to get through another one of these, maybe even two.
Result: 3/10

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