Running is Healthy: Scorch Trials Review



…is what I can say about Maze Runner 2 in a nutshell.

Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trials picks up immediately after the events of the first movie. As Thomas and his friends escape the massive maze prison they were exiled to, they are rescued by a seemingly benevolent military party. But below the surface brews an agenda more sinister, and Thomas inevitably finds himself escaping a new, more treacherous kind of prison.


But really, the plot just consisted of 1) running from soldiers, 2) running from hobo zombies, 3) running from lightning bolts, 4) running from armored soldiers, 5) running from maggot zombies, 6) aaaand running from more soldiers. (maybe a little bit of post-apocalyptic zombie orgies here and there.) Tom Cruise would totally kill in this movie!

Because plot? Forget plot! Scorch Trials shines not so much in its story elements but in the non-stop, heart-pounding, nail-biting, hyper-energetic, chase scenes. Seriously! Those chase scenes were INTENSE and they seriously stressed me the F out! It was like that for almost 3/4ths of the movie and it was EXHAUSTING!

Run, Thomas, Run!

Armed guards and zombies who sprint like marathon runners against defenseless kids whose only real skill is running away? (Except for Minho who did that SICK running knee against one guard) How could you NOT fear for the remaining Gladers? And Maze Runner’s reputation for killing any of the main characters only made it that much more worrisome.

The actors did a great job selling the despair. Their collective tragedy resonated down to the bone. But Dylan O’Brien was especially poignant in his scenes. He conveys nervous, frantic, exhausted, disheartened, and determined with piercing accuracy.

Dylan O’Brien’s conveys his emotions with piercing accuracy.

With all the running going on, it’s easy to miss and not appreciate the world around the characters. But as far as desolate, post-apocalyptic movies go, the visuals in Scorch Trails were pretty impressive. The massive desert landscapes and city ruins were breath-taking and sharply set the film’s bleak tone. There was also a scene in the desert where our protagonists walk single file – a relatively uneventful moment that spoke plenty because of the beautiful way it was shot; just another example of cinematography done right.


But the giant set pieces weren’t for aesthetics only. There’s a particularly cool way the environment is integrated during the chase scenes. The shifting and crumbling of the buildings made some scenes more dynamic and unique.

The environment was not only for aesthetics, but also to enhance the action.

But spirited running aside, Maze Runner 2 was mostly a collection of things we’ve seen before. Other young adult films like Hunger Games and Divergent have both done the whole clueless kid forced into a leadership role and rebellion against a corrupt dystopian institution before. (The social injustice just differs in form.) Video gamers would also probably see the similarities of Scorch Trials to a game called The Last Of Us. It was a fairly recent but well-known game about a world overrun by virus infected humans, and the key to finding a cure is through this unique kid. (Sound familiar?) The look of the “Cranks” and the clicking sound they make were all weirdly similar to the game’s own zombies.

Zombies again.

Furthermore, the other Gladers had less to do here than in the prequel. Their primary purpose here was apparently to shadow the male lead. Minho and Newt practically lost the personalities they had in Maze Runner that made them so likeable. The only supporting characters to have any layer and development on them were Giancarlo Esposito’s Jorge and Kaya Scodelario’s Teresa (albeit the later having much less dialogue).

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My two favorite characters. Need to step up guys.

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Jorge and Teresa, the only characters to show some growth.

And again, compared to the first movie, there was little to no intrigue in the sequel. The only mystery here was what they were doing to the kids who escaped the maze, and they answer that early on. If the first movie had a 65-35 split in favor of the mystery vs. the action beats, Scorch Trials was probably around 20-80, in favor of the action.

And even though there were some things that were finally answered in the second movie, a lot still don’t make sense. Early on, Thomas and the Gladers discover that the World Catastrophe Killzone Division (WCKD) was harvesting something genetic inside the Maze survivors. It was apparently the point of the maze, to screen the children. But if whatever it was that was being harvested was something BIOLOGICAL (something BORN with), then what was the point of coming up with such a convoluted and apparently unnecessary selection process? Couldn’t they just have collected those fluids regardless? Does that mean that only people who can escape a gigantic death maze would have that specific enzyme they were looking for? Seems highly unlikely.


The villain’s shoddy logic is eclipsed with silly troopers. Notice how the guards seldom fire their weapons at the heroes? During the first quarter of the movie, there was a particular scene involving a hallway standoff where the guards so blatantly had the upper hand, and yet Thomas and company still manage to escape. It was all because those ridiculous guards refuse to fire their NON-LETHAL weapons! I know the heroes are supposed to eventually escape, but AT LEAST make it look convincing (especially since escaping tight spots is such a big element of the story). It would have been better to see and feel that these characters ARE special and the DO have some skill instead of thinking that everything they’ve accomplished up to that point was all just dumb luck.

Seriously. How does a kid even escape that??

Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trails was a pretty straight forward film with minimal plot development. Find the resistance - that was basically it. Neither was it anything we haven’t seen in other YA movies before. And yet I still found myself having a great time, primarily due to the very effective treatment of the action and suspense. I still enjoyed the mystery-driven first movie better, but the sequel hasn’t turned me off from the franchise. And with Thomas’ radical declaration by the end of the movie, I can’t wait to finally see them go on the offensive for a change.

Hoping for a much better third installment.



  1. it's Gus Fring!! ngayon ko lang napansin!