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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Reel Deal: The Maze Runner sequel fails to follow in footsteps of predecessor


    Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

    There’s a point in “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” when the rag-tag group of teens who escaped the maze in the first film find themselves in a harsh desert. 

    “I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the Glade,” remarks one of the boys, referring to the isolated verdant patch of land in the middle of the labyrinth that served as their home. 

    Well, after seeing “Scorch Trials,” I can believe I’m saying this: I miss the Glade, as well as everything else that made the original young adult dystopian film so fresh.

    The film picks up immediately after the first. Our hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and the rest of the Gladers who made it out of the maze have been rescued from the clutches of the organization WCKD, pronounced as ‘wicked,’ because calling it ‘EVL’ would have lacked subtlety. Mr. Janson (“Game of Thrones” Aidan Gillen) is the head honcho of the facility they’re taken to, and he assures them that they are now in safe hands.

    Gillen is generally given some of the best speeches in HBO’s medieval saga “Thrones,” and here he’s saddled with dialogue that’s stilted and flavorless. The good news for him is that he’s not alone; everyone’s lines are like that.

    It turns out there were multiple mazes, and that Thomas and company weren’t the only ones to successfully get out. Those placed in the mazes were immune to the Flare virus, a disease that has wiped out humanity by and large. 

    Thomas, after some sleuthing and scurrying around in AC vents, discovers that Janson is working for WCKD, and which is harvesting the Flare-immune blood from the teens. Thomas stages a breakout, and this bland first act, which has almost exactly been Michael Bay’s “The Island,” comes to an end.

    Out of the confines of the cookie-cutter industrialized facility, they are now on the run from WCKD. They must navigate the Scorch, a large, arid desert, to make their way to the mountains in search of a rebel group. 

    They stumble upon Cranks, another poorly chosen name in this universe. The Cranks are zombies created from the Flare virus, and not, in fact, curmudgeonly in-laws.

    To its credit, I can’t think of any other YA movie, be it “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent,” that has attempted horror elements. Sure, this is The Walking Dead -lite with zombies that can’t look too gruesome for PG-13, but they still provide a visceral jolt in this otherwise derivate film. 

    The first film had an air of unsettling mystery that permeated it—what lied at the core of the maze—the conceit of teens living in a glade, trying to escape an ever-changing maze, came across like a modern spin on a Grecian myth.

    Now, we see what’s behind the curtain in the sequel, and it’s sadly nothing new. There’s your malevolent organization in WCKD, just like the dictatorship of “The Hunger Games.” There’s your rebellion, and your pseudo-love triangle. Worst of all, none of the plot elements seemed cohesive. Everything was linked together in very piecemeal fashion. 

    “The Maze Runner” franchise is just sort of like everything else now, and it doesn’t do even a good job at being that.

    Toward the end of the film, Thomas takes a stand. “I’m tired of running,” he says. 

    After “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” so am I. I’ll walk, not run, to the theater for the third installment.


    Follow Alex Guyton on Twitter.

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