Friday, September 18, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials [2015]

MPAA (PG-13) CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (T. Robinson) review

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials [2015]  (directed by Wes Ball screenplay by T.S. Nowlin based on the novel [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by James Dashner [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is the second cinematic installment of the dystopian teen-oriented Maze Runner [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] series, the first cinematic installment The Maze Runner [2014] having been released last year.

As one would assume, this second installment takes-up the story from where first one left-off. However, if one was hoping for clarification, despite a number of fairly significant reveals during the course of the second installment, one will still leave with many questions awaiting answer (maybe ;-) in the third.   This MAY initially seem frustrating to many viewers.  However, remember Viewers / Readers that the central metaphor in this story is A MAZE.

So even though main characters of the story Thomas, Teresa, Minho, Frypan, Winston, Newt (played by Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Dexter Dardan, Alexander Flores and Thomas Brodie-Sangster respectively) emerge at the end of the first installment from the STRANGE, LARGE / DANGEROUS, physical MAZE that they found themselves in at the story's beginning, it really _shouldn't_ surprise ANYONE that a great deal of _monumental_ uncertainty, confusion and intrigue would await them in the new "world" outside of said MAZE that they found themselves (re)entering.  AFTER ALL, it was THAT "outside world" (or at least its elders, leaders, "powers that be") THAT PUT THOSE TEENS INTO "THE MAZE" TO BEGIN WITH.

So much of the second installment is about getting a sense of the world, indeed, GETTING A SENSE OF THE STATE OF THE WORLD that would have put these teens into that strange awful Maze to begin with.  And it should not be surprising that the STATE OF THE WORLD, OUTSIDE, WAS ... PRETTY MESSED-UP: the outside world presented in this installment is pretty post-Apocalyptic, on the dystopic continuum between that of the Divergent [2014] [2015] series and that of Mad Max [1979, 1981, 1985, 2015], definitely closer to Mad Max.

What happened?  Well (trying really, really hard here to avoid Spoilers) something awful enough that would require children/teens to "play a role" in its resolution, something awful enough to presumably justify (to some) putting (some?) kids/teens into that strange awful Maze of the first installment.  Why?

Well ... watch the movie(s) or go read the books ;-)

As convoluted as the story may come to seem to many viewers by the end of this second installment, it actually would reflect quite well the confused / convoluted / desperate nature of a society that would resort to treating (some of?) its kids in the way that it did in this story.

If nothing else this remains a quite intriguing and (I think this is key) a QUITE ALLEGORICAL tale ;-).  I will certainly look forward to the next installment.

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