September 10, 2015
Almost exactly one year ago, the first "Maze Runner" film was released in local theaters. I thought that the action sequences within the maze scenes were all quite exciting and very entertaining to watch. However, after all the excellent suspense and tension built up in the first two-thirds of the film, at the end nothing really gets explained clearly. It felt like an incomplete film on its own. For those it gets interested though, this sequel is expected to give answers to questions raised in the first film.
While under the care of a high-security facility, Thomas becomes increasingly suspicious of Janson, the man in charge. When he overhears a sinister plot hatching, he gets his fellow Gladers out to brave the arid desert called the Scorch outside. However, it was not only the elements they have to worry about, there were still a horde of killer zombies called the Cranks out there to contend with. Thomas and his gang survive the Scorch and unite with the rebel group in the mountains in order to fight the danger foisted on humanity by the increasingly mysterious Dr. Ava Paige and her WCKD organization.
Dylan O'Brien continues his good portrayal of the ever-doubting Thomas. In this film, his character would need to make a lot of difficult decisions and O'Brien convinces us that he can make those hard choices. The other young actors in his gang do not really do too much to stand out. Aidan Gillen, the ever-slimy Littlefinger on "Game of Thrones" brings his smarmy charms in this film as the Rat-Man, Janson. One look at him and I cannot really separate him from his TV character.
Rosa Salazar gives a strong performance as Brenda, a survivor within the city ruins whom Thomas encounters. She registers better onscreen than the main female lead Kaya Scodelario, who plays Teresa. It was good to see another "Game of Thrones" actress in there, the attractive Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Harriet, one of the rebels. Veteran actresses Lili Taylor and Patricia Clarkson lend class to their rival scientist characters, Mary Cooper and Ava Paige, respectively.
The excitement build up strongly in the first act. However the second act in the Scorch felt a bit slow as the Cranks overstay their parts too long. Their horror scenes were effectively creepy at first but they get a bit too repetitive. A protracted hallucinatory party scene can also be quite head-scratching. The third act though hikes up the explosive climactic action and revives anticipatory audience excitement for the next installment. The production design of elaborate setup of the WCKD laboratory and the ruins of the huge city looked very good. At the end of the 130 minute running time, there are still a lot of questions about the true intentions of WCKD, or is that name alone already a giveaway clue?
There was no more maze in this movie anymore for the characters to run through. However, the maze is for the viewer who has to try to absorb this whole labyrinthine dystopian world that James Dashner hatched in his novels. Director Wes Ball does his best to make the complex plot engaging, exciting and entertaining with some pretty well-executed action scenes. Overall, when compared to the first "Maze Runner", this sequel was the more satisfying film for me. 7/10.