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Monday, September 21, 2015


I tried frantically to watch the first Maze Runner movie before seeing The Scorch Trials, but my schedule did not allow it. Luckily, The Scorch Trials does a decent job of filling everyone in on what we need to know from the first movie to understand the second movie. After talking to my son when the movie was over, I realized that the first movie and the second movie were nothing alike and it was almost as if they were two different stories. Weird, ain’t it?

I was also concerned that, since I did not read the Maze Runner books, that I would not be able to follow the story for The Scorch Trials. After reading countless complaints from people who read the books that the movie was nothing like the book, I was satisfied that I could watch The Scorch Trials on its own merits. Then I found out that there is going to be a third movie that answers questions raised in this second Maze Runner movie but, once again, only loosely based on the book. In other words, the Maze Runner movies are putting on a clinic in how not to adapt a book trilogy into a movie trilogy.

My very first, initial impression of The Scorch Trials was that director Wes Ball was trying to cram an 800-page book into a 2 hour movie and leaving out too many details and information that we needed. When I found out that The Scorch Trials barely followed the book, I had to chalk it up to bad writing and bad movie making.

The acting in this movie is stiff and unconvincing for the most part. We have characters that want to kill other characters one minute, and then suddenly change their minds the next. We have performances that I think were supposed to be devious, but wound up looking confused. Then there were the obligatory 20 minutes worth of footage scattered throughout the movie that really did not need to be there. I mean, did we really need to see a zombie who was wrapped in a coil of vines eat a live rat? No, we didn’t. Yet, that is what we were exposed to.

There were a couple of Harry Potter movies that looked like the directors tried to put every single detail from the books in the movies, even though that would have created movies that were five hours long. The end result is a series of plot angles that are either left dangling, or collide with other elements of the plot in ways that were not intended. The Scorch Trials gets away from mazes, but it still leaves the audience disoriented and confused.

I noticed a lot of people who had seen The Scorch Trials were hoping that more information about the elaborate mazes in the first movie would be introduced. What was the purpose of the mazes? Why were certain people put in charge of them? But the mazes were never mentioned in The Scorch Trials, which left those questions unanswered.

The second movie of a trilogy is very much the middle child. It does not offer that fresh experience of setting the story that the first movie has, and it does not give us the closure that the final movie creates. In the original Star Wars trilogy, Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back) is actually a very good movie that can stand on its own. But The Scorch Trials seems to be lacking something that does not allow it to stand on its own. The story takes a dramatic turn into a whole new area that does not involve mazes and alien monsters, and that is actually pretty confusing.

As a film to watch, The Scorch Trials was not bad. It drags in spots, but the action is fun. There are plenty of throw-away scenes that tend to frustrate the viewer, but then there are those really cool scenes that make up for the frustration. If you get a chance to see The Scorch Trials on the big screen, I would take it. But if you do not get that chance, you really are not missing anything.

Rating: 1 ½ out of 5

George N. Root III is a drive-in fanatic who likes trilogies. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at georgenroot3@gmail.com. Follow the conversation for this and other movies at https://www.facebook.com/enpatthedrivein.



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