WRITTEN BY: T.S. Nowlin
DIRECTED BY: Wes Ball
STARRING: Dylan O'Brien, Rosa Salazar, Kaya Scodelario, Aiden Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito
RATING: 3.5 stars
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers are taken to a remote fortified outpost, having just escaped from a maze full of monster machines created by WCKD, which hopes to use their immunity to fight the flare virus. Janson (Aidan Gillen) claims to work for a rival organisation but Thomas soon learns that Janson is part of WCKD. So, Thomas leads a group of escapees into the Scorch, a desert landscape that has overtaken much of the world. They decide to head to the mountains to find a resistance group called The Right Hand. Along the way, they join forces with Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and his surrogate daughter Brenda (Rosa Salazar).
If die-hard fans of James Dashner's young adult novels were upset about how the first film deviated from the book, they will be even more disappointed with the sequel. There are quite a few changes to the story, but even as a fan of the books, I got passed those differences and was still impressed with the film. The action sequences are thrilling and the cranks, which are essentially fast-moving zombies, look scary. Esposito adds gravitas to the film, while Gillen makes a great slimy villain. O'Brien again carries the film convincingly and is well supported by his cast mates. Salazar is also a welcome addition as an alternative love interest for Thomas. The film runs for more than two hours and while most of it is edge-of-your-seat fun, there is an unnecessary scene at the end of the film. Also, unlike the books, which constantly teased some answers to this post-apocolyptic dystopia, the film does little to address some key plot points. Hopefully, it will all be cleared up in the next instalment.