Zombies, Zombies Everywhere!
The Maze Runner (2014) while not a masterpiece was better than I think many expected and turned a nice profit on a modest budget. In Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Wes Ball is back in the directors chair as Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) are still with their band of brothers having escaped the original maze. We pick up the story as the group are helicoptered into the apparent safety of their rescuers compound. All seems well at first as they get themselves cleaned up and find themselves united with other youngsters saved from other mazes. As they wait their turn to get moved to the safe zone Thomas worries that they have been separated from Teresa and things may not be as they seem.
Normally I start writing about the good and the bad, how it compared to the first film etc etc but this time I want to start with the dark tone of the film. This film has a 12A certificate but I am not exaggerating when I say The Scorch Trials is on the limits of what is acceptable within this bracket. There are several scenes when it is tonally a 15 and ultimately my understanding is it came down to a negotiation with the BBFC over what they would accept. The reason for this darkness is the preponderance of zombies. Strictly speaking they’re humans infected with a highly contagious disease but lets not kid around here they’re zombies just like you see in World War Z (2013). They move fast, they look darn ugly (and creepy) and are lethal. There is one scene towards the end of the second act that takes place in some tunnels when it becomes a full on horror for a few seconds. There are some really exciting scenes shot in the dark with flash lights so all you see are some outlines of the hoard of zombies chasing after the group. I never thought for a second I’d see anything like this in a young adult movie.
These are the best bits of this movie but there are a few things that let the film down. The first is its inability to distinguish itself from The Hunger Games series. While it has some strong moments it doesn’t deliver the same level of excellence which I put down the fact that the cast in this series is not as strong or as convincing. The story hasn’t been developed as well – you don’t need to have seen the first film to enjoy this. I am at a loss to understand why ‘The Glade’ and the original test in the maze were required. What does any of that have to do with being immune from a disease? Baffling. The final rousing speech isn’t as bad as that delivered by Kristin Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) but it did make me cringe a little.
This is a step up in quality on the first film so it will be interesting to see if word of mouth gets a few more people into the cinema. To repeat this film is not suitable for young kids. It has a 12A rating for a reason and its not because of a few naughty words or a scene or two of suggestive behaviour. My rating is a stong 3/5.