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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
The Maze may have been the beginning, but the Scorch did not change everything.
Genre: Sci-fi
Directed By: Wes Ball
Produced By: Ellen Goldsmith-Vein
Wyck Godfrey
Marty Bowen
Joe Hartwick, Jr.
Lee Stollman
Written By: T.S. Nowlin
Based On: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Starring: Dylan O'Brien
Kaya Scodelario
Rosa Salazar
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Ki Hong Lee
Aiden Gillen
Giancarlo Esposito
Patricia Clarkson
Dexter Darden
Barry Pepper
Lili Tayor
Nathalie Emmanuel
Katherine McNamara
Alan Tudyk
Alexander Flores
Jacob Lofland
Cinematography: Gyula Pados
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: September 18th, 2015 (United States)
Runtime: 131 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $61 million
Box Office: $312.3 million
Franchise: The Maze Runner
Prequel: The Maze Runner (2014)
The Maze Runner (book, narrative order)
Sequel: Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)
The Death Cure (book, narrative order)

"One of the most tedious apocalypses to come down the chute in recent years, this series gets lamer, and lazier, with each entry. The only ‘Trial’ offered by this film is the ordeal of watching it."
The Wrap

"Director Wes Ball’s adaptation of the second book in author James Dashner’s popular series is the exact opposite of its predecessor, presenting a sprawling adventure that, when not liberally cribbing from more illustrious sci-fi forefathers, spends plentiful time fleshing out the dull details of its oppressed-youth scenario."
The Playlist

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (stylized onscreen simply as The Scorch Trials) is a 2015 American dystopian science fiction film based on James Dashner's 2010 novel The Scorch Trials, the second novel in The Maze Runner book series. The film is the sequel to the 2014 film The Maze Runner and the second installment in The Maze Runner film series. It was directed by Wes Ball, with a screenplay by T.S. Nowlin. Adding to the original film's cast of Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Alexander Flores, Ki Hong Lee, and Patricia Clarkson, the new supporting cast includes Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Jacob Lofland, Katherine McNamara, Barry Pepper, Rosa Salazar, Lili Taylor, and Alan Tudyk.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials was released in select international territories starting September 9, 2015, in 2D, 3D, 4DX and Barco Escape, and was released on September 18, 2015, in the United States in 2D and premium large-format theaters by 20th Century Fox. It was originally set to be released in IMAX, but this was canceled, except Japan (converted to 3D), as Everest had all worldwide IMAX screens booked until the release of the film The Walk. The Scorch Trials received mixed reviews: some commended its action sequences and performances; others criticized the film for its lack of plot and character advancement. Like its predecessor, the film was a commercial success grossing $30.3 million on its opening weekend, making it the ninth-highest grossing debut in September. The film went to the number one spot at the box office during its opening weekend, and grossed $312 million worldwide.

The concluding entry, titled Maze Runner: The Death Cure, was released on January 26, 2018.


Transported to a remote fortified outpost, Thomas and his fellow teenage Gladers find themselves in trouble after uncovering a diabolical plot from the mysterious and powerful organization WCKD. With help from a new ally, the Gladers stage a daring escape into the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with dangerous obstacles and crawling with the virus-infected Cranks. The Gladers only hope may be to find the Right Arm, a group of resistance fighters who can help them battle WCKD.

Why It Doesn't Change Everything

  1. Unlike the previous movie (and this was later carried on for the sequel), the movie is very unfaithful to the source material:
    • The plot is completely changed: Instead of being sent by WICKED to the Scorch as Phase Two of their trials, the Gladers go there to escape and must cross the Scorch to find the Right Arm, who will help them fight WICKED.
    • Furthermore, in the book's continuity, the Right Arm doesn't appear until the third book!
    • WICKED's name (WICKED is short for World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department), is shortened to WCKD (World Catastrophe Killzone Department) for absolutely no reason.
    • The character Mary, does not appear in the books at all.
    • In the second book, Janson only has a cameo, telling the Gladers their next task. Here, appears as the main antagonist.
    • The scene where the Bulb Monsters appear is cut from the movie and replaced with a scene of WCKD attacking the Right Arm's camp.
    • The scene where the Gladers escape WCKD's Scorch outpost doesn't happen until the third book.
    • Minho is captured, despite this not happening at all in the books.
    • Ava Paige appears, but she never makes an appearance in the books until The Fever Code.
  2. Unlike the first movie, Kaya Scodelario pulls off a terrible performance as Teresa, a problem carried on into the next movie.
  3. The runtime is 2hrs, 11mns with barely anything interesting happening.
  4. Misleading title: The film is called The Scorch Trials, despite the fact that said Scorch Trials only occur in the books.
  5. The scene where Minho is captured sets up a pointless rescue sub-plot for the third movie.
  6. The Crank attack at the beginning doesn't happen in the books.
  7. The new characters such as Brenda, Vince Jorge and Marcus don't get any character development.
  8. Some unresolved plot-holes such as why Newt only started showing Flare symptoms in the first half of the third movie and not this one.
  9. Laughable dialogue
    • "I'm gonna kill Ava Paige."
    • "Please don't fight them, Thomas!"
    • "I'm trying to save your lives!"
  10. Weak direction by Wes Ball.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The action sequences are pretty fun.
  2. Some of the cast still do good performances.
  3. The set design for the Scorch looks really cool.
  4. The visual effects and the make-up for the Cranks is really cool.
  5. Despite only being the main antagonist in the third book, Janson manages to be a pretty cool character, and Aiden Gillen gives a decent performance.
  6. John Paesano's score is decent.
  7. Some scenes from the books appear:
    • The Gladers end up in the Scorch.
    • The Group B girls appear.
    • Thomas and his friends meet Brenda and Jorge.
    • Thomas and Brenda go to a party.
    • Teresa betrays Thomas, but unlike the books, Aris is not involved.
  8. The movie may appeal to fans who have read the books.
  9. At least this film did not kill the franchise, or the third movie (which was also poorly received) would not have come out.

Critical Response

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials received mixed reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 46%, based on 147 reviews, with an average rating of 5.41/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is an action-packed sequel at the cost of story, urgency, and mystery that the original offered." Metacritic gives the film a score of 43 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.

The main criticisms of the film were its narrative, particularly its changes from the source material, and lack of character development. Forbes said the film suffered from "middle movie syndrome", claiming that it did not offer an introduction nor a finale. The Wrap stated that, "it doesn't offer much plot or character development". Stephen Kelly of Total Film said, "Scorch Trials ambitiously opens up its world with mixed results: gripping action, so-so script." Walter Addiego of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "there's lots of eye candy, and the pace is fast, but somehow the movie falls short."

Some critics considered it to be an improvement over its predecessor, highlighting its action sequences and performances. John Williams of The New York Times wrote, "the many chases and ludicrous narrow escapes offer respectable doses of adrenaline", and Brian Truitt of USA Today said, "Maze Runner's action, suspense and twists give movie fans of all ages a chance to embrace their inner on-the-run teenager." Rafer Guzman of Newsday said, "the teen dystopian franchise continues to play rough, and now even rougher, with satisfying results." Bilge Ebiri of Vulture said "essentially, The Scorch Trials makes up for the humdrum Apocalypse of its first half by going a little bonkers in its second."

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