The Scorch Trials
dir Wes Ball
scr TS Nowlin
prd Marty Bowen, Eddie Gamarra, Wyck Godfrey, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Joe Hartwick Jr, Lee Stollman
with Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Jacob Lofland, Ki Hong Lee, Dexter Darden, Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Lili Taylor, Barry Pepper
release UK 10.Sep.15, US 18.Sep.15
15/US Fox 2h11
The Scorch Trials
Immunes on the run: Scodelario, Lee, Brodie-Sangster and O'Brien

clarkson gillen esposito
See also:
The Maze Runner (2014) The Death Cure (2018)
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The Scorch Trials James Dashner's teen-dystopia trilogy continues in what's essentially a string of rather uninspired action set-pieces. Without a connective plot or compelling characters, the film feels oddly lifeless. And the real problem is that nothing in the film feels original or surprising.

After escaping the maze, Thomas (O'Brien) and his pals (Scodelario, Brodie-Sangster, Lee and Darden) are rescued from the scorched earth by Janson (Gillen) and integrated into his community of young people. Then Aris (Lofland) shows Thomas that something nefarious is going on, sparking an escape plan. On the run in the ruins of a city, they meet Brenda (Salazar) and her minder Jorge (Esposito), then head into the mountains in search of a safe haven from both the controlling WCKD organisation and the infected former humans marauding across the land.

The name of the corporation is about as subtle as this movie gets, and the story is essentially cut-and-pasted from every post-apocalyptic film ever made. Each action sequence feels vaguely familiar, and what happens is never very exciting, because the characters are so sketchy. The bright young actors do what they can, and they're enjoyable to watch, but it's difficult to care when the roles are story points rather than actual people. At least the veteran cast members have fun chomping on the scenery.

As with the first movie, this episode is packed with mythological nonsense given ominous names like the Cranks (the infected) or the Right Arm (a rumoured rebel group). As title suggests, this chapter is another test for these plucky young people who happen to be immune to the Flare, the disease that has turned the world in to a zombie nightmare following climate catastrophe. Of course, further details emerge about how WCKD uses hideous methods on these kids to find a cure.

Director Ball and writer Nowlin are so caught up in this world that they simply can't make it accessible. Action sequences are jarringly incoherent, utterly lacking in any sense of pace or invention. The one exciting scene, set in a tilting skyscraper, is lifted from Transformers 3. And none of the characters or relationships manage to resonate. As it lurches through what feel like videogame levels, it's almost impossible for a non-fan to maintain any level of interest in where this might be going. And yet, The Death Cure is already on its way.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 8.Sep.15

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