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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) Action/Thriller/Sci-fi
Directed by Wes Ball
Starring Dylan O'Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, and Aiden Gillen
With a noteable supporting role from Alan Tudyk

Okay, so I saw the movie in theaters because I enjoyed the first movie, but I saw it two more times in theaters because of Rosa Salazar who played Brenda (the woman on the right in the picture above). Unfortunately this wasn't one of those movies that gets better the more you watch it. It actually got worse. The first watch I was enthralled and excited. I enjoyed it very much the same way that I enjoyed The Hunger Games. It had that edge of your seat tension. However, I did notice a few flaws even the first time, and by the third watch it took all my efforts to enjoy the movie despite noticing more flaws than I could count. The only acting performance that actually stood out to me as impressive was Salazar's. If it wasn't for her I don't think I actually would have enjoyed the film even the first time. I certainly wouldn't have re-watched it in theaters. The Maze Runner was considerably better than it's sequel, and I'm not even going to advocate that the first movie was anything more then a half-decent Hollywood blockbuster that actually managed to be entertaining to someone who hates Marvel movies. I have no doubt that everyone involved in making both Maze Runner movies had a blast. They all look like they were having tremendous fun, and they all talked about their experiences as being incredible and exciting. You know, just like everyone who worked on the Lord of the Rings movies. But that doesn't mean they were good movies, sorry to say. Sorry fans of the LotR's movies. The good news is if you like those kind of epic Hollywood movies you'll probably love The Scorch Trials.

I could tell that many of the actors involved were actually talented actors. O'Brien looked like he gave everything he had to his performance. Sadly it came across mostly as overacting, and for that I blame the director. Brodie-Sangster also seems like a talented young actor, but he didn't really have a big enough role to impact the movie very much overall. I also noticed that in every scene the cut on his face was slightly different. Come on Wes Ball, could you seriously not notice that the angle of the cut changed, or that it kept switching from a scab at various levels of healing to a fresh cut? Esposito, a newcomer to the series, also seemed to be giving a good effort as a respectable actor. Most of them actually were noticeably giving it their all. The only acting that I really noticed was actually terrible came from Clarkson and Gillen. Both of them portrayed way to much of exactly the same as other roles they've played. Gillen made all the same facial gestures in all the same sly and deceitful schemes that he did in Game of Thrones. I could tell instantly that he was a villain, and I don't think that qualifies as a spoiler because you'd have to be pretty daft not to notice the moment he appears on the screen (which is like the first scene).

The worst shortcomings came from those involved in directing and writing. The script was a bit weak, and the plot was utterly terrible, but the attention to detail was non-existent. The story I felt had a lot of potential, and that did redeem it a bit, but oh my goodness the plot reminded me of something a teenager would write in the roleplaying section of Lucasforums. Nearly 1/3 of the movie's runtime consisted of people running for their lives. Running from security forces, running from zombies, and running from... a lightning storm... yeah that's right, they got chased by a storm. It was even stupider than it sounds. They slept in the middle of the open desert without so much as a tarp, got woken up by the sounds of thunder and flashes of lightning, and saw the destination they were heading to in the first place within a five minute sprint... why'd they stop to sleep five minutes away from their destination? So they woke up to a thunderstorm in the distance, and in a matter of seconds it was so close that lightning strikes were threatening their lives, and they actually ran away from the approaching lightning which soon began exploding all around them nearly killing them all... ugh, it's so retarded... I actually had a nightmare in which Dylan O'Brien was panicking with every fiber of his being yelling, "Go! Hurry! Run! It's Coming! Get out of here!" And waving his arms motioning me away from danger even though absolutely nothing dangerous or threatening was happening. Okay that's a lie, but I feel like this movie could give someone that nightmare. Why didn't these people know that clouds needed wind to move them, and the speed of the wind needed to reflect the speed of the clouds? You can't have fast moving storm clouds without strong winds. They were moving at hurricane speeds. It was as if they were mutant storm clouds that could move on their own. There were plenty of equally horrible plot points that made me wonder when the www.howitshouldhaveended.com video is coming out in which everyone dies multiple times over.

Chalk full of typical Hollywood action/thriller tropes, awkwardly visible lipstick on male characters, industry standard visual perfections like making sure every strand of hair was in an attractive place, and events only transpiring for dramatic effect. Ugh... these people either had no idea how reality worked, or they were thinking to themselves that it didn't matter because movies are just entertainment. Well it was one of those movies. It was just entertainment, nothing more, maybe less if you don't actually find that kind of thing entertaining.

Well enough bashing. The movie was extremely flawed. Now let me talk about the movie's one redeemable quality, Rosa Salazar. Even if you hate typical Hollywood blockbusters, this movie is worth watching for her performance alone. She was the one person who didn't overact in intense situations, but who's acting actually did what acting is supposed to do. It pulled me into the movie and made me believe for just a moment that I wasn't watching a movie; I was actually there and what was happening was actually real. The way she reacted to what other people said, expressed emotion, and conveyed vocal fluctuation and body language were all spot on. What impressed me the most was that she managed to do that with the same director that all of these other skilled actors couldn't. This girl has a gift. She alone bumped the movie up from being a perfectly average movie to something that I actually enjoyed. Also... I think I'm in love with her.