MOVIE REVIEW: The Scorch Trials

They’re still running. Here’s our take on ‘The Scorch Trials’ movie.


There’s a lot of running around with flashlights in this movie.

In fact there’s a lot of running going on in this movie period. But I guess that’s what you should expect from a Maze Runner movie.

‘The Scorch Trials’ picks up exactly where the first movie left off. Thomas and co have been rescued from the maze and are promised that their difficulties are over. They’re safe from WCKD. Of course, that’s not the case and Thomas and his friends are find themselves running away in a desert wasteland–the Scorch.

(That’s not a spoiler–you saw that in the trailers!)

For the most part ‘Scorch Trials’ does a great job at engaging the audience. This movie has a lot of action and close calls. The cranks in particular are well done and frightening.

But after a while it all kind of gets old.

There are spoilers from this point forward.

The Scorch Trials banner

Enter the Scorch

After the first encounter with the cranks, the latter ones don’t really feel that exciting. It’s basically the same thing in a different setting with nothing very unique to set it apart from the others. Although I’m not sure this is the movie’s fault. To be fair, the cranks are more or less zombies. It just might be unfortunate timing. After all, we’ve gone through about five years of ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘World War Z’. There’s not a lot that ‘Scorch Trials’ can bring to the table when it comes to zombies. Zombies have been done and we’ve seen so much of them. This could be why the cranks become so boring after that first scene.

But unfortunately the zombies weren’t the only thing that felt repetitive… Like I said earlier, there’s a lot of running in this movie. First they’re running to escape WCKD. Then it’s running from cranks. And then running from lightning. And then running from WCKD again. And then the cranks again. And then there’s a party. You see what I’m saying? After about an hour in you get a “been there, done that” sort of vibe.

Fortunately, there are some things that save ‘The Scorch Trials’ from being “bleh.” Additions to the cast like Aidan Gillen as Janson, Rosa Salazar as Brenda, and Giancarlo Esposito as Jorge, bring a breath of fresh air into the movie. And while Gillen’s character is very reminiscent of his portrayal of “Little Finger” in ‘Game of Thrones’, we’re still happy to see him causing mayhem for the Thomas and the other gladers.

However, the highlight of the film, in my opinion, is the ending. Teresa’s betrayal, while expected, packed a punch. The scene was exciting and high stakes, and that is especially thanks to the appearance of Ava Paige.

The movie differs a lot from the book, in ways that I haven’t (and won’t) touch on here. We knew going into the movie that it was going to be different, after all. And honestly, the changes are so drastic that they need to be discussed in a separate article. But I feel that the ending merits mention in this review.

RELATED: 22 Book to Movie changes in ‘The Scorch Trials’ Movie (MOVIE SPOILERS)

Ava Paige actressAva Paige never makes a proper appearance in the books. She’s very behind-the-scenes of the entire WICKED (as they’re called in the novel) operation. We get brief moments with her, primarily through letters. However the filmmakers diverged from that idea. Ava Paige is very much part of the story line in ‘Scorch Trials’ and… it works. It works very well.

Patricia Clarkson (aka Tammy Swanson Numero Uno) is cold and fierce in this movie. While her character isn’t fierce in a traditional way–she’s never wielding a sword or shooting off a gun–her calm and collected control of the entire situation is unsettling and frightening. Her calculated words paired with her glare make her an admirable foe for the main characters. She’s definitely one of the best parts of the movie.

So when she makes her surprise appearance at the end of ‘Scorch Trials’, it gives the movie just the right amount of tension it needed. After the boring cranks and the non-stop running, she makes the film interesting again.

Of course all of this means that this ends the movie on a very different note than the book, and it has me wondering what they have in store for ‘Death Cure’. Thomas’s motivation is now to kill Chancellor Paige and take down the rest of WCKD. This might not sit so well with Maze Runner-loyalists. (Again–this needs its own separate article.)

I will say this, though. Like Ava Paige’s addition, I really liked most of the changes. In my opinion, the books get progressively worse. I remember reaching the end of Scorch Trials and feeling very underwhelmed. While the movie isn’t necessarily anything profound or special, I at least felt satisfied walking out of the theater. It was a different feeling from when I read the book. It was better.

“Tired of running”

The movie does have its faults. Like I said before, the zombie tropes and the non-stop running really start to bore you after a while. It’s not enough to ruin the film, but there are definitely parts where you’re checking your watch. Like Thomas, I’m “tired of running.” That’s not to say this movie isn’t good. Again, the ending made me excited for ‘Death Cure’ and I felt like it was a good pay-off. Just remember that it’s not profound or life changing (although neither were the books). So long as you jump into the movie with an open mind and a desire to be entertained for a couple hours, you should enjoy it.

Saul Marquez founded Bookstacked in 2014 and serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief. He primarily covers news for Bookstacked. He also co-hosts Bookmarked: A YA Book Podcast.

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