Review: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

“Where are we, what are we doing here, and how the hell do we get out?” The first Maze Runner film posed these questions then answered them, and this sequel follows on from the big reveal of its predecessor to further move from mystery to complexity. This isn’t unwelcome, and saves us from a retread of more maze running in favour of a more labyrinthine plot. Fear not though, there are still tunnels and corridors and air conditioning ducts to navigate, and doors to slide under, if that’s why you’re here.

Introducing the surviving characters to the ruins of their world, The Scorch Trials picks up right where the previous film left off, but quickly distinguishes itself with some nifty casting in the form of conniving Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones’ Littlefinger). It’s a trick the film repeats often, with Alan Tudyk, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad’s Gus Fring) all showing up to bolster the youthful cast.

As the young ‘uns roam the ruins of civilisation and the Scorch (aka desert) that surrounds them, we’re ushered through a number of familiar post-apocalyptic environments – a city conquered by sand dunes; the bacchanalian pleasure palace for hopeless survivors to lose themselves in; an anarchic, steampunk-y community and more. New characters are clichés nearly to a man (or woman) and enthusiasts of The Last of Us will also find it hard to disregard some similarities.

Despite all this, The Scorch Trials works – maybe even because of it. If all these elements are familiar to audiences, they aren’t to the band of kids encountering them, and these fresh eyes help to enliven proceedings. While it undoubtedly suffers from some mid-franchise-itis as it bridges instalments one and three of a series, The Scorch Trials is a better sequel than expected, even if its mid-series stakes never truly seem serious.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials movie times

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