Film Review: The Maze Runner – The Scorch Trials

The second book adaptation in James Dashner‘s The Maze Runner trilogy, The Scorch Trials, once again directed by Wes Ball, follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the rest of the Gladers moments after escaping the maze. Told that they are now being taken to safety, the truth quickly becomes apparent and it seems that the maze was only the beginning. Now, their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape that was once a major city, now scorched to the ground and consumed by a disease known as the Flare. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces, only to uncover the shocking plans that WCKD has had planned for them all along.


The following post is a review of the film only. You can read my review of the book on its own here or my comparison of the film to the book here.

After reading the first novel in this trilogy and watching the following release of the film adaptation in 2014, I quickly became interested in this young adult dystopian series of novels. They are incredibly fun to read, with a new twist springing up in every chapter to keep you engaged and, as a novel, The Scorch Trials is of the same quality; full of adventure, action and anticipation.

On paper, this should have made a fantastic and eventful film, with The Scorch Trials giving us our first glimpse into the outside world. Unfortunately, this second adaptation can only be seen as a huge flop, and much like the Divergent series, it all seems to be going quickly downhill.

I loved The Maze Runner novel, but felt that the film adaptation was only a decent action-filled adventure, and I was hugely disappointed by the small but constant changes from the novel. These many inconsistencies may have only been minor, but they built up to create a much bigger flaw overall.

So I was expecting the same with this second adaptation, and from the trailer alone it was obvious that changes were being made from the very beginning, showing a lot more communication with the WCKD organisation, followed by the Gladers going off into the Scorch by choice and with Teresa.

In the novel, the Gladers are forced to go into the Scorch after being told that they need to find a cure to the Flare, which they have all been infected with, and Teresa is then stolen from the group and replaced with a male who was part of another Maze Trials (Group B) which was female-led.

So even from these few minutes of footage seen in the trailer, all hopes for a close adaptation were thrown out of the window quite abruptly. But the single change puts into motion something much bigger.

You can buy the film on DVD here

With the film showing the group choosing to flee to the Scorch instead of being sent there for Phase Two of testing, this single change alone changes the whole premise of the film in the context of the trilogy. The Gladers’ minds need to be tested to find a cure for the Flare (more of which we find out about in the third novel), so for the adaptation to completely overlook this is a pretty big deal.

I will go into all of the changes from the novel below, but let’s just say that, by the end, The Scorch Trials film is almost unrecognisable from its original source. As a book, The Scorch Trials is an impressive young adult dystopia, filled with dark tones, character struggles, and relationship tests, which all ensure that you don’t want to put the novel down. But sadly the same can’t be said for the film.

The book is exciting with new technologically advanced monsters, personal tests of humanity, and struggles against a totalitarian organisation, which all keep the pace up, the scares coming, and the readers on edge. But everything that makes the book so enthralling just doesn’t happen in the film.

Even for viewers that haven’t read the book beforehand, The Scorch Trials feels very messy in terms of plot and structure. Most of the characters, aside from Thomas and Teresa, fall into the background, and it adds nothing to the lengthy list of unanswered questions we already had, with the already thin plot completely losing any significance that it had in the context of the trilogy as a whole.

The film misses out on some of the major parts of the book and, instead, includes a lot of information that readers won’t learn about until The Death Cure. It’s difficult to predict how the following instalment will follow (whether they split this final book into a two-part film or not, I don’t know), since much of the foundations of the story have been altered in this middle instalment.

Even if the constant changes from the novel weren’t put into consideration, The Scorch Trials is a weak instalment in a franchise that started off so well, missing out on everything that made the first instalment so exciting when it was all their in the book for the makers to use. In general, The Scorch Trials is a poor film, which is a huge shame considering the potential it had. For fans of the book, it’s not even worth watching, and it almost definitely leaves no hope for the final instalment.

The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is set to be released on DVD on 1st February.

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