Oh for f*ck’s sake, you were holding a sniper rifle IN YOUR HANDS! You could have used it!

Featuring
Dylan O’Brien as Thomas
Kaya Scodelario as Teresa
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt
Ki Hong Lee as Minho
with Rosa Salazar as Brenda
Giancarlo Esposito as Jorge
Aidan Gillen as Future Littlefinger with an American accent (and a gun)
Patricia Clarkson as Ava Paige
and Natalie Emmanuel as Missandei (with a gun)

So, who enjoyed the original Maze Runner? Well, plenty of people, from the sound of it, and I liked it enough to see what its sequel, The Scorch Trials is all about, despite its penchant for stupid acronyms. Granted, this is another adaptation of a series of dystopian young adult novels that are all the rage since The Hunger Games, and it really needs to hold its own against the Katniss Everdeen juggernaut. Does it?

The Scorch Trials follow on immediately from the conclusion of The Maze Runner, Thomas, Newt, Minho and Teresa have escaped from the WCKD maze, and are rescued by helicopter by people who claim to be the good guys. Thomas is the only one who is suspicious out of their group, as the moment that they arrive, the leader of their mysterious rescuers turns out to be Littlefinger. Janson even has the same smarmy smile as his Westerosi counterpart. I think Aidan Gillen has been typecast now.

Anyway, after crawling through some ventilation shafts with Aris, they are deep in a WCKD fortress, and finding out that Ava Paige is still alive, they all make a break for it. Which in this case, means running out into the middle of a desert full of Cranks. Wait, I mean sand zombies. Where there are zombies, there has got to be a dumb plot somewhere. Oh, right the Flare disease turns people into them, just like in every other zombie movie.

The kids are searching for a safe haven, with a group known as the Right Arm. Not knowing whether the Left Arm was amputated, their journey across the deserted Earth pits them against the great foes of thirst, lightning that does not ground properly and more sand zombies that they just stand there and stare at, instead of running the hell away at first sight.

Of course, every movie has dumb moments, and this teenage action movie is guilty of that. Firstly, there are the number of scenes where the characters just stare at the fast sand zombies as they wake up. Guys, you have legs. Use them. Then, the enormous lightning storm that nearly kills Minho keeps striking the ground, and not all the really tall metallic structures around them, or the baseball bat made of metal in a backpack one of them is carrying.

And then in the final scene, all the good guys stand there, staring at Ava Paige and her soldiers as the hoverplane takes off with the ramp down. They all have rifles with scopes in their hands. Nobody bothers to move, except to stare for dramatic effect.

As a standalone movie, it is actually not bad. The action sequences are especially good, high budget set pieces and you can really feel the intensity of it all. The storyline at least advances here, rather than in The Maze Runner, though how much plot you can fit into the daily grind of living in a maze, I have no idea. As a sequel, it manages to at least make the world of WCKD (still an awful acronym), and the Maze into something much larger, and the stakes grander.

Rating

Enjoyable action, but really f*cking dumb plotholes.

Watch this if you…

Need to quench your (inexplicable) thirst for dystopian young adult science fiction worlds.

Don’t watch this if you…

Can’t stand ridiculous scenes where actors simply stare at each other. You can stare at yourself in the mirror all day long for free.

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