18 September 2015



Alternate Title:
The Scorch Trials

German Title:
Maze Runner: Die Auserwählten - In der Brandwüste

USA, 2015
Director: Wes Ball


As you can see below, I'm a big fan of "The Maze Runner" which turned out to be one of the biggest cinematic suprises in 2014, therefore I was really looking forward to the sequel which came out faster than I expected and was made by the same people who made the first one (director Wes Ball, screenwriter T.S. Nowlin, producers Ellen Goldsmith-Vein / Wyck Godfrey / Marty Bowen / Lee Stollman).

Unfortunately, "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" is a lame and unbelievably underwhelming follow-up that starts out pretty great in the first half with lots of fun action and shit, but becomes such an unbelievably frustrating bore in the second half, it's a disaster. Imagine an overbudgeted YA-version of "Resident Evil: Extinction", crammed with ALL elements and features of the dystopian / post-apocalyptic cinema imaginable, incl. average Zack-Snyder-like zombies, end-of-the-world parties and abandoned settings straight outta every post-apo flick of the last 40 years *sigh* 

Gone are the intriguing mysteries and secrets of the first one, gone is the tension, the suspense, the cool creatures. Everthing has "been there done that" and "seen it before millions of times" and "fucking generic" written all over it. Worst of all: 1.] the complete lack of character development and 2.] the frustrating repetitiveness. Our characters come to a new place, meet some cardboard characters, come to another place, meet more cardboard characters, new place, new cardboards, again and again. You can see how much higher the budget was this time, and you can also see how everyone cared about enormous settings, superb 3D and terrific CGI, whilst at the same time not caring about any of the characters. None of them are interesting, intriguing or sympathetic, not even the ones we already know. Everyone is just there.

Acting-wise, everyone delivers a solid job, though this time, it's very obvious that Thomas Brodie-Sangster is a much better, much more colorful actor than Dylan O'Brien. You don't get to see much of him, but whenever he's on screen, he completely outshines Dylan. New additions are mostly good actors wasted on awful characters, like Giancarlo Esposito ("Breaking Bad") as oh-so-tough semi-badass, Aidan Gillen ("Game of Thrones") as oh-so-evil semi-baddie or Lili Taylor ("The Conjuring") as... oh man, [SPOILER] she's just in to get shot.

Btw, the first half is good because of some cool action sequences, many beautiful images and a ravishing score by John Paesano, but the second half is so dull, so boring, so horribly paced, so bad, you just want the movie to be over. "Maze Runner 3"? I couldn't give a rat's ass about it.

Thanks to Christian Siegel and Barbara Wunsch for the invitation to the press screening!


German Title:
Maze Runner: Die Auserwählten - Im Labyrinth

USA / UK / Canada, 2014
Director: Wes Ball


(Review written in November 2014)
I've never read any Young Adult novels before and I don't plan on doing so in the future (lazy me) - but as an avid fan of the "Hunger Games" films, slightly similar teen-survival stuff like "Battle Royale" or "Lord of the Flies", and labyrinths/mazes per se, I just had to check this flick out - and glad I did!

"The Maze Runner" is the directorial debut of visual effects artist Wes Ball and the adaptation of James Dashner's novel of the same name, first part in a post-apocalyptic YA trilogy following a community of memory-wiped boys who find themselves in an open expanse called "The Glade", surrounded by a gigantic maze which is filled with bio-mechanical spider-like and extremely dangerous creatues called "Grievers"...

Yes, the movie has its fair share of flaws and problems, many open / unanswered questions, several obvious plot holes, and a few things that just bugged me (why did the climbing not work? what about possible homosexuality? etc.) - but compared to recent post-apo stuff like "Snowpiercer" where the flaws were distracting and downright annoying, all the flaws in "The Maze Runner" were easy to ignore, easy to dismiss, thanks to Ball's terrific direction and his fabulous ability to create gripping tension and mesmerising action sequences (every single Griever-scene was nervewracking as shit!).

I love the colorful youngster cast, consisting of many, many highly talented actors who all deliver cool and believable performances, especially Dylan O'Brien ("Teen Wolf"), Ki Hong Lee ("The Nine Lives of Chloe King"), Will Poulter ("Son of Rambow"), chubby kid Blake Cooper, and of course, the adorable Thomas Brodie-Sangster, best known for his wonderful role in "Love Actually".

The movie's entire production design is excellent, especially the fabulous-looking Grievers and the fascinatingly designed maze itself. John Paesano's ("Scream 4") powerful score perfectly accompanies every single scene, especially the fast-paced and action-packed ones. Also, great camera work (Enrique Chediak, "28 Weeks Later"), quality CGI; the editing was often a bit too choppy, but still good enough.

A few hiccups here and there, but nothing that irritated me or made me angry. "The Maze Runner" is a surprisingly entertaining and very well made YA flick that exceeded all my expectations. Can't wait for "The Maze Runner II: The Scorch Trials" which is already in pre-production!


  1. I saw this advertised, it sounds worth the watch. Great review!

  2. YA, giant CGI "trials for teens" - no thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.


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