If you caught my review of the second novel in James Dashner’s Maze Runner series then you’re well aware that I wasn’t that excited for the film adaptation. As much as I love watching Dylan O’Brien, I just couldn’t imagine the two hours being worth it with that story tagging along. But surprise! It didn’t suck! A glowing review, I know.
The problem I had with Dashner’s version of this story (if you don’t want to read that full review here) is that it is unnecessarily confusing and void of explanation, even as the premise is simple enough. Basically WICKED is still pulling the strings and the Gladers must now travel across a wasteland known as the scorch to a safe haven before a plague ravaging the land catches up with them. Why is this WICKED’s demand? And why did WICKED lead the Gladers to believe they had been rescued by resistance fighters before being thrown back into the chaos? I’m not sure if anyone knows this, or how any of this can possibly fit into the grand scheme of things.
Thankfully a simple change is made in the film adaptation that alters this lack of motivational understanding greatly: the Gladers aren’t running to a place at the demand of WICKED, they are running away from WICKED to survive. This alteration makes all the difference in the story, which now becomes something that allows focus to drift to the action instead of being bogged down in the mystery.
When you think about it, the mystery still makes little sense. The movie supplies a reason for why these kids are so important to WICKED, but in giving us this explanation suddenly the whole first movie is thrown into question. To put it simply, if these kids are somehow connected to the possible survival of humanity in the face of this plague, then what was the point of allowing them to be killed off in the maze in the first place? Well maybe if… ooo, zombies! Who can get stuck on silly questions concerning what is going on above the surface when we have invigorating sequences with flesh eaters!? Run, Gladers! Run! And run they shall.
The action and fast paced nature of the movie is what holds it together through the plot points, character introductions, and “surprises,” so if you have any hope of enjoying this one then leave any desire for complexities at the door. As Dashner’s novel gets edited down and away from, The Scorch Trials becomes your typical young adult post apocalyptic / dystopian story currently appearing on half of the screens in every theater. A fellow reviewer at the screening came out complaining that he’d already seen Catching Fire, and though I don’t quite agree with this comparison when you look at the plot of the two films, I can see what he’s getting at. Simply put, The Scorch Trials plays it safe: it doesn’t try to be anything new, it doesn’t surprise in any way, and it is pretty much predictable the whole way through.
…But I still enjoyed it for what it was.