Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster. Directed by Wes Ball. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.
There are no mazes in The Maze Runner sequel The Scorch Trials, but there sure is plenty of running. The teens from the first movie run from agents of the sinister World Catastrophe Killzone Department (aka WCKD, pronounced “wicked,” of course). They run from zombie-like creatures known as “cranks.” They run from the dangerous superstorms that strike suddenly in the post-apocalyptic landscape that Earth has become. They run and run, but by the end they are barely any farther away from where they started.
While the central idea of The Maze Runner, with amnesiac teenagers trapped in a verdant glade surrounded by a dangerous labyrinth, didn’t make much sense, at least it was unique. The Scorch Trials (adapted very loosely from James Dashner’s novel) just throws together a bunch of overused post-apocalyptic elements, from zombies to crumbling cities to rebel groups clad in earth tones, and careens haphazardly from one to the next. Director Wes Ball gets a larger world to play with, and there are one or two exciting action moments, along with some welcome supporting turns from dependable character actors Patricia Clarkson, Giancarlo Esposito, Lili Taylor and Aidan Gillen (who probably deserves an Oscar nomination for saying “World Catastrophe Killzone Department” with a straight face). The main cast of young people, however, is as bland and forgettable as the end-of-the-world clichés they’re forced to navigate.