Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials - Running aimlessly to nowhere - 2 stars

"You can't survive the scorch." 
Walking into the cinema...
Are dystopian young adult dramas running out of steam?

Overall rating: 2 stars
Cinematic value: 2 stars   
Big questions value: 2 stars

       For those keeping up with the latest in young adult dystopian fiction, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials continues the saga of Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and his fellow Gladers. They have escaped the Maze, but it is an 'out of the frying pan and into the Scorch' experience. They leave their dystopian Garden of Eden existence and find themselves at a transfer depot facility that is overseen by Jansen (Aiden Gilen). He claims to be helping the ‘immunes’ of society to get to a safe place that is far from the barren wasteland called The Scorch. Thomas' band of brothers and Teresa () have to determine if the outpost is designed to set them free or to keep them captive. On top of these internal trials, after their recent maze exodus they also need to investigate the purpose of the mysterious organisation called WCKD and how Janson's outfit is involved. Their haphazard search for the truth involves a multitude of other human outposts where they run into the hands of organised crime gangs, infected zombie-like creatures and The Right Arm resistance fighters, all in an attempt to stay ahead of WCKD’s special forces.
        Director Wes Ball (The Maze Runner) managed to deliver a fresh spin on the disquieting young-adult genre with his first instalment and developed an intriguing cinematic puzzle. Unfortunately, this relatively new director has fallen into the trap of the sophomore venture. Given the task of following up to his original creation, he has to try and make lightning strike twice. In this second outing, he struggles to determine what type of film he is trying to make. Is it The Hunger Games, is it World War Z, or is it Alien? Understandably, sampling from other filmmakers is not new for directors, but Ball seems to  get lost within the tangled web he attempts to spin. Early in the film Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangsterasks Thomas if he has a plan for their escape and the leader has no solid answer. The same can be said of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, there does not seem to be any concrete direction for the story. 
           From the first chapter to the second, the producers invest in a multitude of special effects, but seem to have left the script writer back in the maze. The script becomes a series of derivative lines that only serve as trivial connectors between the numerous running sequences. One appealing factor of The Maze Runner was the development of the key characters, which helped the audience to develop concern for their well being. In this venture, most of the misguided disciples of Thomas only serve one of two purposes, either as hopeless running companions or victims of the various horrors along the way.  Understandably with trilogies, the second link in the chain is meant to connect the series together, leaving key plot points open for the conclusion, but it helps if the audience cares about the central players. The challenge in getting people to the final instalment of this trilogy will be to provide a reason for caring for this group of misfits, because the second chapter does not provide this key story element. Leaving open the question, should we care if the society of Maze Runner even survives? 
        Taking a moment to catch a breath from all of the athletic activity, this film does have one underlying theme that is worth pondering. Thomas and the others must risk their own lives to save the remnant of society. Yet, with their best intentions, they are caught in the cross-fire of forces that seem to be attempting the same goal, saving the lives of the world's population. In trying to save the earth, is the fate of society worth the sacrifice of a  a few? Throughout the film, the lines are blurred in answering the question of the sanctity of life. It is not an easy answer, but does beg the questions the value of life and to what lengths must we go to preserve others lives? God proves throughout the Bible the lengths he will go to to save people's lives, but people need to determine if they are willing to accept his answer to life. 

Trailer for Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Leaving the cinema...
One puzzling factors in the majority of the end of the world and dystopian style films in the past few years is they all happen in San Francisco. It is an exceptionally iconic city that is known for the engineering marvel, the Golden Gate Bridge. Yet, as a bridging film, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is far from iconic and definitely is not a cinematic marvel.  

Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. How will the world come to an end?  (Matthew, 24:36, Revelation 20:1-15)
2. What does the Bible say about the sanctity of life? (Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139: 13-16, Matthew 5:21-22)
3. What sacrifice does God make to save mankind? (Luke 23-24)

Discussion questions sheet: Use the attached discussion guides. Print them off or pull them up on your browser and keep the conversation going with your friends after the film. 

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #mazerunnerscorchtrials