Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials movie review

By Kate “One Take Kate” Taylor

Image via Mr Leon Taylor

I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by the Maze Runner films! As is the way of the film geek, the TV nerd, there is so much content and so little time. Even if I binged my life away on show after film, series after trilogy there’s no way I could possibly see everything and know every narrative. When I went along to the NZ premiere for Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials I just expected a slick film for young adults, something Hunger Games-ey I thought…who knows, but I was keen to check it out.

Dylan O’Brien gets the Spoiler Police treatment… Image via

Yeehah! I didn’t realise that I would exit this sci-fi meets post-apocalypse meets young adult horror film, wanting to know more about the first instalment and also to go back and read the books written by James Dashner. But here I am, ready to fully immerse into the Maze Runner universe – so much so that I’ve already gone back and watched The Maze Runner on blu ray to retroactively catch up!

Apocalypse Chic…on the run but looking cool in The Scorch Trials. Image via

On to this next portion of the story however, solid and admirable young characters or Gladers use all their savvy and common sense to cooperate and beat tasks or adversaries to survive. Picking up almost immediately where the first film left off, firm friends and Maze Runners Thomas played by Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf) and Minho played by Ki Hong Lee (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) are joined by Teresa played by Kaya Scodelario (Skins), Newt played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster (GoT, Love Actually) and some of the other Gladers in a desperate attempt to find safety. Taking on the merely bestial and physical threats of the Maze to another level, now the Gladers along with some new allies, have to contend with a larger group of individuals and the natural psychological impacts this would have; such as who can be trusted or on the larger scale…where exactly are a bunch of people whose memories have been erased, trying so hard to get to?

As soon as you see Aiden Gillen you know that things are about to get scandalous…amiright?! Image via

One Take Kate is a big horror fan and I have to say I was SO impressed that The Scorch Trials actually got ME to jump at more than one occasion in this film, maybe because I was going in with zero expectations – but there’s nothing like that feeling when a film really gets you out of your day-to-day and gives you a jolt, so well done there Wes Ball (also director of The Maze Runner and Beginners). I was also very excited by a character reveal that I have a feeling must be a pretty big deal to the Maze Runner universe but I’m not 100% sure if that’s the case…let’s just say I was Buggin’ Out (Do the Right Thing – 1989) when I saw him! There’s also another small role that I’ve spotted has not been credited on IMDb but he’s a geekdom favourite that I think people will be delighted to see in the role of Marcus.

You want me to what?! Bizarre happenings in the Scorch for Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar). Image via

I really enjoyed the whole look and feel of the film, there’s crazy almost spaceship like dorm quarters, there’s Mad Max-esque barren wastelands out in The Scorch, there’s crazy sexy dystopian parties like something out of the California Love video clip, there’s disgusting Resident Evil video game styled hatches or tunnels filled with unimaginable beasts (except someone from Weta Digital has dreamed these up!). Pre-visualisation masters The Third Floor also work on The Scorch Trials which give it this glossy, seamless quality with no clunky edits or strange angles.

A perfect example of a scene from Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials that would have been created more easily with the aid of Pre-Visualisation. Image via

What’s Pre-visualisation?
In the most basic of explanations, Pre-visualisation is a film pre-production tool that is essentially digital storyboarding. It’s renown that Alfred Hitchcock used to have artists storyboard his entire film he was about to shoot, so that he wouldn’t have any surprises during production and filming. In an era where there’s biiig money at stake being spent on blockbuster films, directors and producers want to know things are going to fall into place. Here’s where pre-visualisation comes into play! By using software like MAYA, digital animators and artists can give the feel or concept of a scene, even down to the swing of a particular camera angle across our heroes face; saving valuable hours and cash in the production process and ultimately making the entire film a smoother and more enjoyable experience, with a fully realised look into the ‘world’ you’re viewing.

The Third Floor are some of the best pre-visualisation people in the business having worked on films like Thor, Avatar, The Avengers, Gravity, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the Captain America films, the Iron Man films, Oblivion and Cloverfield to name only a mere few; plus The Third Floor are very regular collaborators with Weta Digital and Weta Workshop. So when you see all those names in the credits that just look like walls of text: those are very skilled and talented digital artists helping to create beautiful worlds on film.

Dylan O’Brien smashes his role as Thomas in The Scorch Trials…this guy is going to be influential in years to come! Image via

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is fun and cool with lots of strange little aspects that make it unique; but for my worth it’s the great sense of capability these young characters carry and that makes me feel great knowing that young adult readers and viewers are being encouraged to think critically and morally…now time to get out there and get these novels to catch up on before the third film drops!

Have you read the novels by James Dashner? Where do you sit with the first Maze Runner film – fan or didn’t feel it? Lemme know below or on my social media buttons on the right.




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