There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Scorch Trials (2015) movie review


Overall verdict: 5.5/10

The Good: Bigger scale than its predecessor, consistent bleak tone and sense of tension, continues "maze-like" elements from predecessor, deviates from the more corny elements of the book (e.g: telepathy), continues sense of mystery

The Bad: Mediocre music, cliched story and setting, overly frenetic camerawork, lack of originality

3D Readiness: None

******************************Review*****************************
Remember the unique setting of 2014's MAZE RUNNER? There constant sense of tension and mystery? The twists, the turns and the wholly original production design? Nope. In this sequel, we get rid of the maze, we get rid of the originality. What we are left delves into every single post apocalyptic video game cliche ever created, only with teens gifted with unlimited stamina.

Picking up where MAZE RUNNER left off, THE SCORCH TRIALS sees our heroes Thomas, Minho, Theresa, Frypan and Winston seemingly rescued by a group that claims to have their best interests at heart and who oppose WCKD(the evil organisation that trapped the kids in the maze int he first movie). It would have been believable if not for the incredibly evil sounding Irishman leader Mr Janson. Hearing him talk, you know all this "safe haven for the kids" is bull. And yes a short while later we find out that the kids have been actually captured by WCKD again and are about to get their brains drained. Something about some fluid in the brain and some mutation virus caused by solar flares. No answers are given of course and in true teenage fashion, the kids rebel against the controlling adults and venture forth into the burnt out desert wasteland city known as "the scorch".

From then on, the movie starts to resemble Dawn of the Dead: Post Apocalypse, or "I am Legend: Teenage Edition". There are zombies in dark tunnels and the kids only have themselves to rely on. Then they run into other humans. Some of them want to sell them, some want to broker a deal, some want their help in fighting back against WCKD. Evil organisation, resistance group, wasteland survivors, zombies, that's it! This is Uwe Boll's Fallout 3. It's like the writer started binge gaming after the success of MAZE RUNNER and just threw in what he liked about the various post apocalyptic games he played.

The characters don't change much other than for Thomas, the designated hero. At least he goes from the confused mess he was in the last movie to the confused leader of a confused group in this movie. The rest are calafare at best, accessories to Thomas' journey. At least they go beyond being mere token minorities for the sake of diversity and actually contribute to the story in a crucial way.

Amidst the cliches, boring characters and overly shakey cinematography, THE SCORCH TRIALS at least manages to hold on to its constant sense of tension in its second and third acts. Foe after foe comes at our young heroes, each one deadlier than the last. You have some magnificent set pieces showing off the post apocalyptic landscape in its full glory and at no time could I tell the practical sets from the CGI. But after a while, you sort of accept that these youngsters have olympic level stamina and can still look pretty escaping through sewers, trudging through ruins and hiding in holes. Kudos to the writer for continuing the "maze like" elements from he first movie, hence justifying the need to leave "Maze Runner" in the title. Sure, they aren't in an actual maze, but getting lost in zombie filled abandoned building, chased through a warren of tunnels and dodging stray lightning bolts in the dark, all call back to the dangers of the maze.

THE SCORCH TRIALS could have had some brains to it. At points I get the feeling the writer was trying to tie it all down as an analogy for growing up. If the Maze in the previous film represented a youngster's school life, with its rules, unique culture, sheltered learning environment, and first exposure to girls, then the Scorch almost seemed to represent that youngster taking his first steps into an adult world. It has some nice analogies to what regular teenagers face nowadays. Conflicting loyalties, conflicting emotions, a fling with drugs or just a tempting fling. Some would give up and yearn to return to the sheltered life in school, some would become corrupted by their newfound freedom; some would sink into the same vices that have plagued the adults and yet a few would rise to the occasion, becoming better people in the process.  This analogy of the scorch to the trials of young adulthood could have been played up a little better. And it was a real pity too.

In the end, THE SCORCH TRIALS cannot be forgiven for its reliance on cliche, even if it was in the original book. I cannot say for certain how much it deviated from the source, but I have learned that the book involved psychic powers. So i guess the lack of psychic powers in the movie is quite an improvement. Other than that, it is yet another movie with lost potential and a sequel that is no where as good as its predecessor.

*****************************Review End***************************

Entertainment: B-
Story: C-
Acting: B+
Characters: C+
Music: C-
Replay value: B-
"Brains": C

1 comment: