Major book series are often transformed into major movie series: The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey (I could go on for awhile). It’s possible for fans of the books to become fans of the movies, but it’s impossible not to notice differences between the two.
The first book of James Dashner’s Maze Runner series was transformed into a blockbuster about one year ago, and of course, there are some alterations. But with the Sept. 18 release of the second movie, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the franchise took a significant turn; it completely abandoned the book’s plot and created a plot of its own. The movie was action-packed and had a thrilling storyline, but readers of the series will probably feel more confusion rather than the standard disappointment.
*Note: If you haven’t watched the first movie or read the books, I advise you to not read this review further due to some spoilers.
The first Maze Runner movie and corresponding book leave off with the main characters finally escaping the giant spider-infested maze and learning that their lives there were part of an experiment, run by a group called WCKD, to save the world. Dashner’s second book leads the characters into another experiment: surviving in a deserted wasteland that’s complete with electrical storms and crazy, zombie-like people.
Scorch Trials, however, has no such plot. Instead, the characters find themselves in a WCKD compound at the beginning of the movie and lead character Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) decides that WCKD’s experiments are corrupt and not actually helping society. He convinces the rest of his friends to escape with him, which they do successfully, and the group winds up in a deserted city complete with electrical storms and crazy zombie-like people.
This is not to say, however, that the movie was a disappointment. Packed with intense scenes of running from and battling members of WCKD, zombie people, and other evil forces, Scorch Trials had almost everyone in the movie theater at the edge of their seats, often jumping during unexpected moments (such as when rabid zombies came out of nowhere).
As with most action-heavy movies, character development falls behind and some scenes don’t make sense. For instance, the whole time the characters are in the wasteland, there are barely any scenes of them eating or finding water. Filmmakers probably were hoping to pack the movie with so much action that viewers would forget about *minor* details such as food and water, but these types of holes make the film lack authenticity.
Other awkward and confusing parts come at the end of major action-packed moments, when certain scenes are left unexplained. In one instance when the group runs away from zombies, the action ends with Thomas and his friends hiding in a cave. There’s no explanation of how they got there; the scene jumps from them running in an abandoned building to them hovering in a cave.
Along with plot holes, there is also some less-than-adequate acting, but with a cast full of teenagers, there’s bound to be some inexperience. Seasoned actors such as O’Brien are able to carry the movie (and it doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes), but actress Kaya Scodelario, who plays Teresa, was hardly convincing. Her face was blank for most of the movie and when she finally decided to show emotion, her face looked more like a scary mask than a worried teenager.
I can overlook some of the poor acting because the action and special effects blew me away. Scorch Trials provides viewers with as much action as Fast and the Furious with an exciting, dystopian plot similar to Divergent.
If you’ve read the Maze Runner series, don’t think about that plotline when watching the movie. Separate the book and movie series in your brain, because it’s difficult and confusing to try to match up what you remember from the book to what’s happening in the movie. But still go see the movie — half of the reason should be so you can stare at O’Brien for two hours.