Wednesday 9 September 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials ... Lots of running

I'M tired of running, says protagonist Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) near the end of  Maze Runner: The  
Scorch Trials.
  That line sums up director Wes Ball's film, the sequel to last year's Maze Runner, which he also directed. Both are based on books written by James Dashner. And yes, it's a trilogy, with the final part expected in 2017.

   In the first film, Thomas and his multiracial coterie of teens spent a lot of time figuring out how to escape a gargantuan maze. At the end of the film, a helicopter swooped in to pluck the teens out of the maze, which they discover is in a dessert. Why a dessert? Hell if I know. The team discovers that a medical firm called Wicked is desperate to find a cure for a disease called the Flare.
   In this sequel, the team arrives at a huge and well-protected facility, like the one you've seen in tonnes of science-fiction films. Its manager, Janson (Aidan Gillen of Game of Thrones), welcomes them with open arms, but Thomas gets a wee bit suspicious when Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and other teens are supposedly taken to greener pastures.
   What Thomas and Aris (Jacob Lofland) discover is enough the scare the gang from the first film into getting out of the facility. They break out of it, outwitting guards with Tasers and guards on sand buggies, and this is when the running starts.
   The run underground but find a mass of people infected with the Flare. The Cranks, or zombies,  have been indolent for a long time but can muster the energy to chase after the coterie.
    The music, and editing by Dan Zimmerman, who also edited the first film, quicken the pulses of viewers during this tense moment. I could feel myself running with Thomas and the gang, feeling their pulsating heartbeats and fearful of the band of zombies scurrying after them. However, I found it odd that all the teens found functioning torches.
   They continue their long walk into the dry and arid land, with some teens questioning Thomas about his decision-making. They enter an abandoned factory run by Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito of TV's Breaking Bad) and his sidekick Brenda (Rosa Salazar). The team wants to join a mythical band of rebels called Right Arm,  which no one has seen or met before.
The film's reputation is hanging by a thread. 
  Again, there's a whole lot of running, with Janson breathing down their necks in an attack helicopter.
   Thomas and Brenda end up in a landscape filled with empty and falling skyscrapers. Think of the LA landscape in Terminator Salvation and you'll get the idea.
  In the sequel, Thomas is still the leader of the Rat Pack. The team members question him a bit but they are subservient to his will. Whatever he says goes. I find it strange that even with eight people in the team, there's no devil's advocate to challenge him or present alternative choices.
   The reason why Wicked wants teens for its medical experiments is ludicrous. You'll hear an explanation given, but you'll either reject it or accept with a big pinch of salt.
    The adults are mostly dangerous people who'll stop at nothing to achieve their goals. You can't even trust them when they want you have fun in their club.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars



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