Certificate 12A, 131 Minutes
Director: Wes Ball
Stars: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials begins with a young Thomas being taken away from his mother by some sort of soldiers. Then Thomas (Dylan O'Brien, The Internship) wakes up on a helicopter. At the end of the previous film, The Maze Runner, Thomas and his surviving friends, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Winston (Alexander Flores) and Frypan (Dexter Darden), had escaped from the Maze and were being taken away in said helicopter by their rescuers. Now, they are landing outside a large facility - for some illogical reason, on a pad that is unprotected and out in the open, rather than being safely on top of the facility. As they land, humanoid shapes start rushing towards the helicopter, and soldiers from the helicopter and the facility drive them back, allowing the Gladers to get inside.
When Thomas and friends get into the facility, they are greeted by the man who runs the facility, Jansen (Aidan Gillen), and offered a shower, food and accommodation. They also discover that there was more than one Maze, as there are a lot of people there of a similar age from other Mazes. The exact purpose of the Mazes isn't known, but they do have a definite purpose - they aren't just some twisted way of killing teenagers. Every day, several of the teenagers are taken away to start a new life somewhere safe. Only a few can be taken at any time, but everyone naturally wants to go. Or almost everyone, anyway.
Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maze-Runner-The-Scorch-Trials-Poster.jpgThe facility itself is secured, and they only have limited access to parts of it. Aris (Jacob Lofland), who was rescued from another Maze, has been there the longest. He is sure there is something going on other than what is supposedly happening, and takes Thomas to see it. They see bodies - living, rather than corpses - being taken into a room, from which they never return. Thomas is suspicious, but the others aren't. Of course, they don't know that the whole escape from the Maze was staged. The control centre wasn't attacked, and the scientists hadn't been killed. Instead, Dr Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson), the apparent head of the Maze they were in, and perhaps even more - who wasn't dead - stated that the escape was Phase 2.
When Thomas finds out that Page is still alive, and that the people who went in the room are strung up and being harvested for some fluid (as well as there being other, stranger, creatures in containers), he convinces the others to escape, which they do, into something called the Scorch. The Scorch has the wreckage of civilisation; damaged and destroyed buildings, abandoned cars, ships aground and no water, with sand everywhere. There are also something called Cranks, which the group stumble across whilst seeking shelter. These were the humanoids that attacked as they arrived at the facility
As well as the Scorch, which was apparently caused by solar flares, there is a, perhaps related given the name, virus called the Flare. The Maze escapees are immune to the Flare, which makes them valuable; the Cranks would appear to have been infected by it. The Flare has turned them into not-exactly-zombies; not the walking dead, but a still-living creature that bears quite a few similarities to the cinematic zombie - rather like the turbo-zombies of 28 Days Later.
Thomas wants to find something called The Right Arm, which is some type of resistance group to the W.C.K.D. The Scorch is dangerous, and there are still humans living in it, as well as the Cranks, and they stumble across a gang lead by a man called Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and his adoptive daughter Brenda (Rosa Salazar). The trip to find The Right Arm is not going to be easy, or safe.
The film is available in both 2D and 3D. It was watched in 2D, although this was due to a problem with the 3D not working properly rather than an actual choice. Still, it works well in 2D and, being live action, probably wouldn't be that much enhanced in 3D. It's based on the book of the same name by James Dashner.
The film does have quite a bit of violence and danger, especially when Thomas and the others are being pursued by the Cranks, but it's not graphic violence. Much of it, on W.C.K.D.'s part anyway, is largely sub-lethal - the escaped teenagers are valuable and needed, and they are no use dead after all. There are frequent extended bursts of non-stop action punctuated by more restrained moments of potential, rather than actual, threat.
Jansen is a suitably thuggish threat to the party, although you would expect someone in the position of authority that he is would be a bit more controlled than he is, as he's sometimes a bit on the petty side for no real reason. Paige is a much more menacing threat than Jansen, even if she doesn't make threats or pursue physical violence herself. Everything she's doing, she's doing for the right reasons, and someone convinced that what they are doing is the right thing, no matter who might be harmed along the way, is much scarier than a thug. When everyone to some degree thinks they are doing the right thing, too, that also makes motives a bit fuzzier. This isn't as shallow as it might have been, and it isn't as immature as young adult fiction often is.
The film can't really be judged entirely by itself; after all, it's in the middle of a series. It therefore doesn't stand by itself; without seeing the first film, this one will mean very little, so make sure The Maze Runner is seen first. It also does lead into the next film in the series; there is unfinished business and still a lot to explain, such as what were those things in tanks in the facility, although a lot of the background has now been covered to some level. Having said that, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a good film, if you've seen the first; it continues the series well and builds tension towards the next.
Certificate 12A, 131 Minutes