Last September, The Maze Runner hit theaters in an attempt to jumpstart another mega-franchise from a YA series. The film was both mildly successful and mildly entertaining. You can read my review of that film HERE. Naturally, nowadays a film achieving such mild success begs for another installment to be made and thus we have opening today its sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. The first film had its small charms, which mostly relied on the fact that the premise was simple and easy to follow. Does the sequel match the tone of the original and live up to its slight amiability? It doesn't take too long to find out.
The Scorch Trials picks up immediately where the first film left off as our band of survivors from The Glade escape the maze and finally find their freedom... or so they think. Instead their leader Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) discovers with the help of a bland, but somewhat quirky newcomer from ANOTHER maze, that the people who rescued them may not be who they say they are. As you can imagine, an escape ensues and pretty much lasts for over two hours. The first film had legitimate moments of suspense, and a clear target to direct our fear at (the maze monsters,) but Scorch Trials just throws everything at the kitchen sink and hopes it works. Unfortunately most of it doesn't, and the result is a concoction of recycled ideas you've already seen. The Scorch Trials essentially becomes I Am Legend mixed with the Divergent series. Neither element is really a positive addition.
What it does take from the first film are its flaws. My biggest gripe with that film was how thinly drawn the characters were, and unfortunately the filmmakers here are once again too concerned with cramming all the events from the book to attempt to add much depth to the familiar faces from the last movie. That might not have been a problem had they been given proper setup, but pretty much everyone stays the caricature they were from the first film. Even worse, instead of fleshing anyone out, the story throws in a handful of new characters to join the journey... and the whole thing just becomes a muddled mess.
I can appreciate that this sequel isn't trying to simply remake the first movie (*cough Hunger Games: Catching Fire *cough) but just the fact that it's different from the first doesn't make it good. It's too jarring a shift from the first movie, and by having to sit through so many escape sequences by the end you'll just hope everyone is caught. The ending tries to echo Empire Strikes Back where one character gets a "Han Solo frozen in carbonite" type treatment, but unfortunately, it can't pull off the hat trick since all of the characters besides Thomas are essentially expendable. That said, SPOILER ALERT it gives a great title to the third film: Maze Runner: Finding Minho. EMILY RATING: 5/10