Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) Movie Review: Desert Heats Up, Franchise Drops A Few Degrees

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for every “lottery”-style roll call and Island send off.

Take a Drink: anytime you hear “WCKD”, “Scorch”, “Cranks”, “Shanks”, and “Right Arm”.

Do a Shot: for each conveniently placed escape grate.

Take a Drink: whenever you hear one of the four swear words in Scorch Trials.

Do a Shot: every time a group of what happens when The Walking Dead bangs Groot shows up.

Shotgun Your Beer: for the hormonally-charged sting of betrayal.

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Felix Felicis (Three Beers) –

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are falling, everything is pumpkin flavored, and white girls are finding their spirit animals at Forever 21 and stocking up on uggs for the winter. Time to once more enter the pantheon of teen novel adaptations which yours truly stepped in last year to review The Maze Runner, and I donned my bunny slippers this past weekend with resolve in my heart and dual flasks of tequila in my hands to bring you my very specialest thoughts on the latest angst-ridden installation of the Maze Runner franchise. We’ll be right back after this commercial break from NOT our sponsors.

That’s my number two nightmare, right below dating a kale enthusiast.

The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials follows Thomas, Teresa, and Co. as they once again battle mysterious masterminds, harsh living conditions, and the pitfalls of puberty to fight for their right to party… And live without being tapped like kegs for a cure to a worldwide pandemic turning people into evil zombified trees, or some shit like that. Life’s a bitch for these Gladers and seeing as how there’s two movies left in the franchise, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not about to get any easier anytime soon. So buckle up because shit’s about to get real… Real SCORCHY.

You might wanna see a physician about that “heat rash”.

A Toast

Once again, after having read James Dashner’s novel before screening this latest franchise installment, Scorch Trials gets my rare “better than the book” badge. Then again, considering the source material, and the fact that retarded cucumbers could write a more complex novel, this isn’t so much a comment on how good the movie is (it’s pretty good) but rather on how bad the book is. This young adult novel series is written for the target age range of about 12 or so and the plot is simplistic, the characters shallow, and the story arc filled with extraneous, wildly incoherent details. Mad props, LIKE ALL THE PROPS EVER, to screenwriters Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, and T.S. Nowlin (for The Maze Runner) and T.S. Nowlin again (for a solo Scorch Trials screenplay) for extracting a watchable and engaging teen franchise flick from that hot mess of spastic source material.

Chuck Norris and I both salute you.

Scorch Trials is also visually rewarding with sweeping desert vistas and epic lightning storms, plus it’s largely well acted with Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien exuding convincing charisma alongside Ki Hong Li’s “Min Ho” and Thomas Brodie-Sangster’s “Newt” who form a Wolfpack of Awesome Bro-ness (only to be dragged down by Kaya Scodelario’s- admittedly well acted- character “Teresa”). But the breakout character in this flick is Giancarlo Esposito’s (Once Upon A Time) “Jorge”. Esposito takes an aged-up character (from novel teen to movie adult) and breathes life into the slightly flagging third act of the film. What could’ve easily devolved into a tedious game of hide-and-seek was kept fresh by the continual surprises and magnetism emanating from Jorge; far and away my favorite character in the franchise thus far.

Once-Upon-A-Time-S1x02-The-Queen-consults-The-Magic-Mirror
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the drunkest of them all?

Beer Two

Okay, so measuring Scorch Trials using the especially low bar by which I judge all teen franchises-

In order of quality:

1) Hunger Games

2) Divergent

3) Maze Runner

4) Rabid Badgers Mating (not a movie, actual rabid badgers mating)

5) Twilight

-Me, somewhere around Twilight movie number three.

Scorch Trials is actually pretty decent. HOWEVER, it still has moments that smack you in the face so hard with genre tropes you briefly think bangs may be a good look on you. They’re not. But I digress. All of those tropes missing in the first franchise flick, Maze Runner, which elevated it to a really good example of the genre, were all present here because I guess someone noticed Maze Runner was bucking the trend and defying expectations AND NOBODY DOES THAT IN THIS TOWN. Or something. We had the love triangle that did nothing and went nowhere between Thomas, Teresa, and Brenda (Brenda? Seriously? There’s a guy named FRY PAN in this franchise and someone named their kid BRENDA during the apocalypse? Lame.) but whatever, we had it.

Then we had another groan-worthy moment when a character’s been bitten by a psycho tree zombie and wants to kill themselves before they turn (doing so with Nicholas Cage-worthy stoic demeanor and dialogue “I’m… not gonna make it…” etc) and the only thing missing was the single crystalline tear running down their cheek before we hear a gunshot echo off camera as the other characters walk away, freeze as the gunshot echoes, then KEEP WALKING TOWARD THEIR DESTINY. FML.

Tim Curry just GETS me.

Beer Three

While head and shoulders above the source material, Scorch Trials still felt predictable and slightly overlong. Also, sidenote: if I see ONE MORE POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIE WITH EITHER A DECREPIT STATUE OF LIBERTY OR SAN FRANCISCO BRIDGE I’M GONNA START STABBING JAWS. I get it, you want easily identified landmarks, but for fuck’s sake can we branch out? I hear St. Louis has a sweet arch up in that bitch.

Great! I hope you saved the receipt.

Also, for some reason, the more the mystery of the franchise is explained, the less interested I am in the outcome. Deadly maze eating people with amnesia? I’m in! Secret experiments with an insider dropped in the middle of it? Okay… Double agent being crossed by another double agent in pursuit of more secrety experiments and apocalyptic intrigue? Enh. Pass. I said it in Maze Runner and I’ll say it again, the magic is in the mystery and the more they explain what’s going on, the less this franchise looks like a unicorn and the more it resembles a fat whale with a horn taped to it’s forehead. I may or may not understand what narwhals are. Scorch Trials is still pretty entertaining and has some decent action in it, so it’s not the worst thing out right now you could purchase a ticket to.

narwhal
This explains so much.

Verdict

Scorch Trials will sizzle but fail to pop it’s way into your long term memory. A decent way to pass the time, this flick serves up piping hot moderate entertainment like my mother serves up guilt at any and all holiday functions.

3beers-1

About Felix Felicis

Filled with smart-assed sass and armed with the expletives to prove it, Felix Felicis is a critic adrift in a sea of dirty thoughts and tawdry humor. If you see her float by, toss Felix some beef jerky and a taser. She’ll take it from there.

8 comments

  1. I probably won’t watch the movie but I WILL be reading more of your reviews because your vocabulary and verbosity make my nips hard

  2. As a current resident of the St. Louis area, the only thing gonna destroy this city is the people itself or me after I go through this double order of lumpia shanghai. I don’t get how every teen book gets a film deal when the basis for the franchise is already terrible. I mean I get it but why expose the rest of the world to more bad teen movies?

    • We did something really, really bad in a past life and we got teen franchise flicks. Like, I’m assuming something pretty terrible.

  3. Although I am much older then the target audience, may need to watch to see Zombie Trees! Love your reviews!!

  4. Perfect. I pretty much agree with 100% of this review. Depressingly predictable movie that really doesn’t go anywhere at all. Neat action, but none of the fun of the first flick.

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