Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (3 stars)

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Fun sequel to the YA actioner, with Dylan O'Brien and Aidan Gillen

Having beaten the mysterious Maze at the end of the original film, the teens we once knew as 'the Gladers' find themselves enjoying hot showers, meals and bunk-beds in a facility run by a smarmy science guy, played by Aidan Gillen. You’d have to be pretty dim to trust Gillen, who always plays sneaky weasels. And lo, all is not what it seems (there’s a shocker), with the unsubtly acronymed WCKD (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department) once again behind things. So, with barely a pause for breath – and some welcome explanatory exposition – the gang are back to running for their lives, across the wasteland known as 'the Scorch', through non-stop perils, spectacular landscapes and some impressive ruined-city sets, in search of a rumoured safe haven.

As YA post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure franchises that are not The Hunger Games go, the Maze Runner saga (based on James Dashner's novels) is arguably the best. Like the first instalment, this sequel, also directed by Wes Ball and starring most of the same young heroes, is sufficiently angst-ridden for its tween and teen core. But it’s also nicely dark, doomy and creepy, more graphically violent than the first film, and more grown-up. You don’t even need to have seen the original to get with the plot: the earth has been devastated by solar flares, most of the population have become zombie types afflicted by a plague called 'the Flare', our amnesiac teens are naturally immune and everyone not zombified wants to experiment on them in all manner of unpleasant ways. Run!

Dylan O’Brien, as handsome head boy Thomas, is a credible leader figure for the band and the largely youthful cast (including Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Ki Hong Lee) are nicely intent, while the mostly dodgy adults are all played by thespians of impeccable repute (Patricia Clarkson, Gillen, Lili Taylor, etc). The first film made ten times what it cost, so solid direction and acting here are backed up with impressive production values. Plus it’s rather fun. Bring on The Death Cure!

General release from Thu 10 Sep.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • 2h 11min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Wes Ball
  • Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Patricia Clarkson
  • UK release: 30 October 2015

Having beaten the Maze in the first film, the teen heroes are cast into the wasteland known as the Scorch. The second instalment of the best YA post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure franchise that isn't The Hunger Games, it's angst-ridden, doomy, creepy, violent and rather fun, with a solid cast and impressive production…