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‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ Review: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario & Giancarlo Esposito

Based on the popular Young Adult trilogy written by James Dashner, “The Maze Runner” books are set in a post-apocalyptic world and follow the story of teenagers who are forced to overcome several obstacles to find the truth and survive. Wes Ball returns to direct and T. S. Nowlin adapted the screenplay for this sequel to the 2014 film The Maze Runner.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Winston (Alexander Flores), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) have successfully escaped the Maze where they were kept by an organization called W.C.K.D. (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department) run by Dr. Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson). After escaping, the teens were picked up and flown to another location run by a mysterious organization working against W.C.K.D and run by Jansen (Aidan Gillen). Jansen and his team are trying to find out all that they can about W.C.K.D., but Thomas isn’t so trusting of him.

When Thomas and another boy from a different Maze named Aris (Jacob Lofland) find out that these people can’t be trusted, they all escape and go out into the Scorch. The Scorch has unexpected weather conditions, no shelter and no water. There are also the Cranks, humans that have been infected by a virus that has taken over the world. It’s up to Thomas to find a safe place for himself and his friends and figure out how to escape W.C.K.D. for good.

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Dylan O’Brien is a young talented actor who is destined for greatness in Hollywood if he continues to take the right roles. O’Brien succeeds as Thomas and though his character may not be as hero-like as Tris from Divergent or Katniss from The Hunger Games, O’Brien has a deep connection to Thomas and fully engulfs himself in the role and in this world.

The sequel introduces several new characters including Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito), a leader of a group in the mountains leading the resistance against W.C.K.D.; Brenda (Rosa Salazar), who is Jorge’s right hand that he adores like a daughter; Blondie (a fun performance by Alan Tudyk), a sleazy club owner; and Mary (Lili Taylor), who is a doctor among a group of survivors in the mountains. Esposito is the scene-stealer in this film, his portrayal as Jorge is both intense and hilarious and he acts as a father figure to several of the characters. Patricia Clarkson and Aidan Gillen are both fantastic in their small but vital roles, bringing a depth to the story.

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The Scorch Trials begins promisingly enough, picking right up where The Maze Runner ended. We are introduced to a new location, a scientific facility that is interesting and suspenseful. But towards the middle when the teens are out in the Scorch, battling zombie like creatures, which has become terribly outdone in film and TV recently, the story slows down and it is the most uninteresting part of the film oddly enough. Towards the end, the action unfolds and the film starts to get exciting again.

The Scorch Trials may serve as a middle point for the story, but it leaves several plot holes that will hopefully be explained in the final film The Death Cure. The cast is dedicated and there are a few gripping scenes, but the sequel doesn’t hold up to the originality and plot of its predecessor.

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