Wednesday, 16 September 2015


A sense of functionality pervades Wes Ball's Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, a film so indebted to formula that it even adheres to those that needn't apply to it, right down to the title, which offers virtually no insight into the actual events depicted in its corresponding feature. That feature has the potential to be a historic one - or at least it would were it not so utterly disposable - due to its archetypal nature. The Scorch Trials is the quintessential middle film, one stripped of the freshness of the film that preceded it and devoid of the finality of the film that follows it. It is a procession of plot points, each established with the tantalising hint of style or significance, only for that hint to be discarded as an already-overlong film feels the urge to move ever forward, while evoking a near-constant sensation of standing entirely still. For a film situated on a post-apocalyptic, ravaged earth populated by ragtag renegades and evil corporations, it's remarkably staid. And there's that formula, dictating that nothing too momentous occurs herein, leaving space for us to be impressed only by shallow scenes of blusterous action, and roused only by silly scenes of ham-fisted heroism - the closer's a real gem if you're into that kind of thing. Is it a shame? Is it a waste? Certainly, there's genuine artistry in some of the effects, and there's a relatively thrilling sequence set in a collapsed skyscraper over a ravine, though you can sense that the filmmakers know it's their best moment, and they pretty much let the film go completely slack the rest of the time. Fans of The Maze Runner likely won't mind, since that film was so subpar too, but literally everybody else ought to avoid The Scorch Trials like it's a zombie plague.