The Scorch Trials movie amps up the action and the drama
It has been several years since I read The Scorch Trials, the sequel to James Dashner‘s The Maze Runner, and the second book in the trilogy. So, when I knew a movie was going to be made from the books, the only thing I wanted from the movies was that the actors portrayed the characters’ personality/traits as close to the books as possible. And that the story itself honored the books, not necessarily having to play out exactly as it did in the books. The Maze Runner movie did that successfully, and The Scorch Trials movie outshined its predecessor.
What’s interesting is the way that there were elements of the book in the movie, and enough so that it still felt like James Dashner’s creation on film, but at the same time, director Wes Ball and screenwriter T.S. Nowlin found a way to make it their own without compromising on the characters. It’s not like you find the characters doing something that they wouldn’t have done in the books, or vice versa.
What I also enjoyed was how it fleshed out some minor characters from the books and gave them more meat and thus more for us to understand about them and their motives, which I believe is actually something that certain characters needed in the books. In some cases, it tends to be a problem for fans of the books to give minor characters more to work with or to even add characters that were not in the books and take away those that are. But in this case, those added characters, and even some added scenes gave more sense to the storyline that can be a little too ambiguous in written form.
However, with those changes, there can be some disgruntled fans, which will happen. Again, I found the movie stayed true to the novel, but found a way to be different and entertaining for both fans of the books and non-readers.
Considering the tight budget of the movie, the visual/CGI effects, especially with the Scorch itself and the fast-zombie-like cranks, I was happily impressed with it all. They were able to make those cranks quite scary looking and different enough from the standard undead look. The cityscapes and other creature effects were great, although the Glade in The Maze Runner still stands out as an amazing scene.
We see the return of Dylan O’Brien (Thomas), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa), Ki Hong Lee (Minho), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt), Dexter Darden (Frypan), and Alexander Flores (Winston) in their roles from the first movie. Add to that the characters played by Giancarlo Esposito (Jorge), Rosa Salazar (Brenda), Jacob Lofland (Aris), Nathalie Emmanuel (Harriet), Katherine McNamara (Sonya), Barry Pepper (Vince), Lili Taylor (Mary), Aidan Gillen (Janson), and Patricia Clarkson (Ava Paige), you have a pretty good group of young actors with several respected veteran actors. For the most part, there wasn’t much to complain as they did their roles admirably well. But for many of the young actors, these films being their first major credits, there were a few times when their reactions and dialogue didn’t feel quite genuine. But that didn’t deter from the movie as a whole.
The movie is not lacking in action nor twists and surprises, and maybe a few slightly over-the-top moments. But I was enjoying the pace and the story it was telling that I didn’t mind. It sets up the next movie fairly decently as well, and in regards to continuity, having Wes Ball behind the camera for both the first and second movies was a major advantage. Luckily, there shouldn’t be a problem with the final movie as it was just recently confirmed that Ball will be directing Maze Runner: The Death Cure as well – a rarity in Hollywood when it comes to movies and its sequels, and more so when it involves a YA based movie.
I’m continually impressed with Dylan O’Brien and the rest of the young cast and I am quite satisfied with The Scorch Trials movie, despite its differences from the novel.
My rating: A-