Thursday, 17 September 2015

Review: Maze Runner - The Scorch Trials

World of Blackout Film Review

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Poster

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (3D)
Cert: 12A / 131 mins / Dir. Wes Ball / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

And that, Mr Pitt, is how you make a 12A-rated zombie movie, not your sorry effort. In fact, truth be told, The Scorch Trials is a better zombie flick than most actual zombie flicks I watch…

Hitting the ground running after the events of The Maze Runner (with no plot catch-up), the film follows Thomas, Theresa, Minho, Newt & co as they try and make sense of the world outside of The Glade, or rather what's left of it. Trust, loyalty and resilience are all tested as the gang go on the run to try and find the last outpost of rogue resistance and a possible cure for the disease which has all but destroyed humanity…

Once again I actually loved this, although I think I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed its predecessor. With the majority of primary characters introduced already, The Scorch Trials gets straight down to business and is a far better film than even its own trailer suggests. It succeeds where many of its genre-mates*1 flounder because the screenplay doesn't patronise its younger characters, or its audience.

There are visual and thematic nods to Dawn Of The Dead and Resident Evil: Extinction, and while the 12A certificate is never stretched too far, parts of the movie could prove too intense for younger audience members (particularly the under 12s who've been vouched for by their parent/guardian). That said, part of a good cinematic education has long been scaring yourself shitless at an early age (me? The Twilight Zone and Magic); it's just usually done with an 18-rated movie.

Great performances all round, especially from the younger-cast again, and with a scene-stealing turn from Alan Tudyk, bringing the Post-Apocalypic Camp™ as Blondie.

It's not all plain-sailing, of course. The Scorch Trials demonstrates again that 3D stereoscopy and hand-held cameras don't mix well, and the film's infected/zombies look at little plastic once you get them into the daylight (but again, I've seen worse in full-on zombie movies). And bad-guy Aiden Gillen's voice affects a Sort Of American accent which immediately gets so homesick it keeps popping back to Dublin for every other scene. Generally, an otherwise capably-direct script has been lightly garnished with some of the most excruciating dialogue clichés which never derail the film, but each one makes you wonder about the editing process that was employed, here.

Speaking of the script, I counted a few (what I term to be) homages to the galaxy's favourite movie franchise in here, too. Paraphrased (naturally), these were:
• 'Now I owe you one'
• 'Do you remember your mother?'
• 'Does anyone else have a bad feeling about this?'
• 'What you're suggesting is more like… suicide!'

Another very pleasant surprise, darker and less righteous than its contemporaries. I'm already looking forward to The Death Cure

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Only if you watched The Maze Runner, and then only if you enjoyed it.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
If you're not already sold then it'll be a rental.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Anyone under 25 is on great form, here. The older ones, more of a mixed bag…

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I'm not versed in the literary versions, but I'd say yes.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
I didn't hear one.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Aiden Gillen starred in the 1996's Some Mother's Son, a film which boasts among its cast Fionnula Flanagan, who of course played Catarine Towani in the Ewok movie, Caravan Of Courage.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And I'm fully aware that 'films adapted from Young-Adult novels' shouldn't even be a genre in itself, in exactly the same way that films adapted from regular novels isn't. But in terms of marketing and bland adventure stories, where the special snowflake teenagers are treated unfairly by the bad man? They're becoming indivisible with each new franchise added to the fold...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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