Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

(On Cable TV, June 2016) I’ve reached my limit on teenage dystopias a year ago, so it’s not a surprise if I find Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials to be both useless and dull. The moronic world building of the first film gallops further afar in nonsense here, with our teenage protagonists blindly flaying between murky opposing forces. They wander through the desert, the mountains and discover groups that seem to exist without any food or water sources but hey—as long as the chases-and-thrills structure is followed, nobody really cares. Despite the action sequences, though, The Scorch Trials is surprisingly dull: the thrills are derivative, most of the plot points mean nothing, the cast of characters is largely undistinguishable (and overwhelmingly male, especially in the first half of the film) and there’s a sense that the film is just wasting time before the third-movie conclusion. There is, to be fair, a few interesting post-apocalyptic visuals, especially when the group wanders in broken cities. It’s also sort-of-interesting to see a few Game of Thrones players pop up in minor roles, with Aidan Gillen nearly playing the same character in the same way. But not much of it amounts to any particular interest for The Scorch Trials. A quick Wikipedia check suggests that the plot of the book has been substantially altered, but given the inanity of the source material, it’s hard to count this as a failure of adaptation. Much like everyone else, I will reluctantly end up seeing the third movie when it comes out—but seeing the falling box-office results of the competing teenage dystopia series, it sure looks as if I’m not the only one who’s ready to put that subgenre out of its dreary misery.

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