While “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” may be full of entertaining action, it doesn’t offer much plot or character development, critics said.
The sequel to last year’s “Maze Runner,” stars the same characters while adding a few new ones, such as “Breaking Bad” star Giancarlo Esposito. There are new plot points too — however, these don’t advance the story, which leaves it exactly where the first left off.
At least, that’s what TheWrap’s James Rocchi wrote in his review: “‘The Scorch Trials'” continues this series’ broken, bargain-basement construction, like a Russian nesting doll made of layer upon layer of sci-fi cliches and meaningless revelations that, as they’re prised apart, get more and more tiresome until they ultimately reveal nothing at the core of it all.”
Yet, some critics had positives to bestow the film, praising Dylan O’Brien‘s action-filled performance while being surrounded by a stellar supporting cast. And director Wes Balls, according to some, injects just the right amount of energy into the film that will leave fans excited for the next installment.
“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is tracking at $48 million this weekend, on pace for $127 million cumulatively. So while critics might be torn about the film with its 45 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, teenagers are expected to flock to theaters, explaining its 98 percent “want to see” rating.
Here are 10 other critics reviews:
Katharine Pushkar, New York Daily News:
“‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ does pretty well. It finishes respectably on a scale between ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ (fizzle) and ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (aces!).”
Dann Gire, Chicago Daily Herald:
“It might be that ‘The Scorch Trials’ is merely an overly action-packed sequel so generically executed that its characters muster all the personality of jack rabbits on the loose.
For that matter, none of these characters receives enough screen time to develop relationships with us or each other, not even Glencoe native Lili Taylor‘s noble field doctor, Mary.”
“Unlike other post-apocalyptic young adult properties like ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent,’ ‘Maze Runner’ is grittier, dirtier, sweatier. Freed of the cold, austere spaces and bunkers that mark those films, out in a ‘Mad Max’ type world, it feels somewhat real. There are ridiculous and unnecessary monsters, but the stakes are straightforward — Thomas wants himself and his friends to be free. He runs and runs without a destination, and ‘Scorch Trials’ highlights the weaknesses of this idea, but it seems like something a teenager would actually do.
O’Brien is so fully, physically committed that you can’t help but believe in him, and he’s surrounded by a winning supporting cast of young actors who are a pleasure to watch.”
Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post:
“As the protagonists flee from WCKD toward a group of freedom fighters known as the Right Arm, ‘The Scorch Trials’ moves through so many colorful crises that it feels like a series of trailers for the next chapter of ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Divergent,’ ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘Mad Max.’ It’s exhausting, yet emotionally unengaging.”
Bilge Ebiri, Vulture:
“Director Wes Ball brings the right level of energy, at least to the second half. Many of the action setpieces are derivative, to be sure, with echoes of everything from ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ to ‘Terminator Genisys,’ but they’re effective nevertheless. And he seems to have grown as a choreographer of chaos since the first film, which was often incoherent when it came to chases and fights. Now he keeps things moving without forsaking clarity, which is all the more impressive given the far bigger scale of this production. ‘The Scorch Trials’ isn’t a particularly good movie, but it’s just fast and nutty enough to keep you entertained.”
Tasha Robinson, A.V. Club:
“The YA book and film dystopias of the past seven years have often been unrelentingly bleak, and ‘Maze Runner’ is no exception. But after an hour and a half of mechanical 10-minute action cycles that start with, ‘Maybe we’re safe now, for the moment,’ and end with ‘Aaaah! Run!’ the pattern gets as wearying as the level of emotional brutality. After a point, it feels like fully a quarter of the script is minor variations on ‘Go, go, go!’ and ‘Faster! They’re gaining on us!'”
Gregory Wakeman, CinemaBlend.com:
“Along the way it also builds and enhances its world and characters impressively. New ties are created, surprising conflicts emerge, and by the roll of the credits you’ll immediately admit that you’re still invested enough for the final installment, ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure,’ due out February 2017.”
Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com:
“‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ is larger than its predecessor, last year’s ‘The Maze Runner,’ in every way: in its cast, scope, set pieces and (unfortunately) length. But ‘more’ also means more convoluted. The mythology in these dystopian young adult novels-turned-films can be dense at times, but ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ crams in more lore, supporting characters, backstories and motivations to the extent that it becomes difficult to get a grasp on anything.”
Bill Goodykoontz, AZ Central:
“Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait.
“That’s what ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ is like. Except that the wait here is for the third installment in the series, which might provide a layer of meaning to the frenzied action here. Director Wes Ball’s film is a mad dash from one place to the next, with little time in between for rest, recuperation or plot development.”
Kevin P. Sullivan, Entertainment Weekly:
“Left without a gimmick, ‘The Scorch Trials’ wanders between YA cliches — there’s a Resistance, but it’s unclear what they’re resisting — and zombie movie tropes, with the obligatory a zombie bit our friend scene. All of which would have been acceptable if the characters were given motivation beyond ‘We need to go here’ and ‘I need to save her.’ There’s also the nagging frustration that most of the mystery at the heart of the movie could be resolved with a good, honest conversation between the characters.”