Maze Runner movie was best described as a dystopian Lord of the Flies then Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a full on apocalyptic zombie movie.
And much like the first movie, for something that's essentially supposed to be "young adult" in nature, it's remarkably "grown-up" in the way it both builds the world but also deals with the characters.
While a lot of that is to do with the script, the remainder is very much in the hands of the talented young cast once again. Granted this time around there's less quiet introspection and character development and more running (oh so much running), dodging and hitting things with sticks, but they still manage those few character moments well.
Leading them through the titular trials once again is Dylan O'Brien, who I'm generally fond of anyway due to his work on Teen Wolf, but who I also think is a very solid actor. The other returning actors, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden and Alexander Flores are likewise solid, although if I'm honest I don't really remember either Darden or Flores from the first movie... and Lee and Brodie-Sangster aren't given a screaming amount to do beyond shooting guns and looking at O'Brien a lot.
The story really is more about the running and the dodging, and about O'Brien's Thomas and where he fits into the larger story of the Maze Runner universe.
New cast member, Jacob Lofland, has a couple of nice story beats, but he also represents one of the things I like about this series... they go for either the best actor for the character or else want to populate the world with "non-traditionally attractive" actors, because not everybody in this world is a perfect specimen.
And playing the adults, Patricia Clarkson and Aidan Gillen just manage to stay o the right side of evil moustache twirling... particularly Gillen, who you know is evil as soon as he appears on screen, partly because he is Gillen.
The zombies were an interesting story development... especially as they're the fast running kind of zombie (see, again with the running), and seemingly both the cause and the symptom of the whole post-apocalyptic dystopia. I'll be interested to see if the final movie (yes, because nothing worth doing these days isn't a pre-built trilogy) delves more into what the actual zombie virus is about, because there's some nice teases or hints at something a little different there.
There's also a lot of strong effects work (barring one really dreadful CG rat), particularly in turning what I'm guessing was once New York (based on one of the bridges) into a desert wasteland.
I'm definitely interested to see where this goes in the final instalment, especially given how different the first two movies were.
yani's rating: 4 cranks out of 5