Runner - The Scorch Trials' - Entertaining, despite weak story
IANS Rating - ***
After the first edition of "The Maze Runner", the expectations from its sequel were high. And truly, "Maze Runner - The Scorch Trials" does not fail to impress.
Based on the second novel from James Dashner's trilogy, the film, like its predecessor, oscillates between fatalism and optimism.
Here, director Wes Ball ups the entertainment quotient with an equally brilliant action packed adventure that keeps you hooked.
This film feels quite different and distant from its predecessor, but it definitely works on its own steam.
The narration of "Maze Runner - The Scorch Trials" takes off immediately after its previous instalment, where, in the dark of the night, Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and his fellow Gladers are transported to an undisclosed destination, which is controlled by Janson (Aidan Gillen) a member of W.C.K.D. (World in Catastrophe: Killzone Department) the all-powerful organisation headed by Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) that controls the dystopian society.
Here, during their routine morning briefing, they notice many more youngsters are bundled together in the bunkers.
These youngsters are segregated by Janson on a regular basis and are sent away with, "beyond this door is the beginning of your new life."
Intrigued with this routine, Thomas gets restless and is soon led into the organisation's secret with the help of Aris (Jacob Lofland) a fellow member from a different Maze.
Once Thomas penetrates into the inner chambers of the bunker, he is convinced that none of them would leave this place, alive.
Being the de facto leader, he convinces Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Newt (Thomas Brodie- Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden), Winston (Alexander Flores) and Tressa (Kaya Scodelario) to escape from this confinement.
The seven of them which includes Aris, make a dash to the mountains beyond the Scorch - a desert-like landscape inhabited with a major chunk of its people inflicted by the Flare, a virus that makes them zombies.
What follows is their escapades and chase through the perils of the Scorch, which includes the groups teaming up with Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) who are the unaffected members of the Scorch.
The film is a very well-directed piece with great performances from the original, charismatic cast members as well as the new ones. Together, the ensemble weaves magic on the screen.
Visually, with elaborate production designs and sets, Gyula Pados' cinematography is compelling.
His frames beautifully capture the locales, the characters and their moods. The most striking of them all is the wide-angled shot when the group is trudging the Scorch and they hear the fatal gunshot in the backdrop.
The only issue with the film is its writing. While the first edition concentrated on the mysteries of the Maze and bonding of the characters, this edition plunges directly into the action sequences and lacks the mystery elements.
While the plot concentrates on the chase with some jaw-dropping horror moments that work well during the adventure trails, the script struggles in character development and to answer some logical moments convincingly.
Also with too much exposition between the action sequences, the narration drags on occasionally.
Overall, "Maze Runner - The Scorch Trials" is a glossy, entertaining film.