By: Mike Agostinelli

Last years The Maze Runner was a surprisingly engrossing and exciting adaptation of a likely incredibly basic young-adult post apocalyptic novel. Is it presumptuous of me to assume this having never read a page of the book itself? Yes, but if we’re going off the fact that these end of the world teen angst franchises are a dime a dozen, which they are, and that all of these said franchises suck large and copious amounts of dick, then this opinion really wouldn’t be too far off. Which was why it was such a shock to my system when I walked out of the original film having genuinely enjoyed what I saw, despite a rushed and confusing climax. This brings us to the inevitable sequel, The Scorch Trials, which has been trotted out so quickly it almost seems like it was already made before the first even came out.

Is it good? In a word: yes. The Scorch Trials picks up five minutes after the first, dropping us back into this world as Thomas and the other Gladers are delivered to a secret military installation that may or may not be run by the nefarious government organization with the ridiculous title of WCKD. After things go wrong and they find themselves out in the vast wasteland of “The Scorch” the film morphs into a road picture/zombie picture/chase picture that propels us from one set piece to the next, all the while slowly unraveling the mystery of what happened to our world and what can possibly come next.

There’s some genuinely cool action scenes to be had here, at least for a movie of this caliber. Most have been ripped off from other films, but that does little to dull their shine. A zombie chase sequence in an abandoned mall is a highlight, as is another chase up through a skyscraper which has fallen over and is leaning against the side of another building. All very badass stuff, which cant be said for sister franchises like The Hunger Games or the Divergent series, which are far too preoccupied with their corny and forced love stories to be bothered with things such as engrossing storylines or action beats. Speaking of romance, there is barely any to be had here, which I admire. Once the film starts leaning in that direction, it is quickly and unequivocally shut down almost immediately, to an almost comedic effect. I also can’t stress enough the pleasure I received from not having to hear a pretentious actor say the words “Miss Everdeen” ten times in one hour.

The movie could have used a better editor though, as it’s a tad on the lengthy side, clocking in at over two hours. Certain epic films require a running time such as this, but alas The Scorch Trials is not such a film. Several scenes drag on for unnecessarily long stretches, and there are a few too many sequences where the group explores a dark space in relative silence with flashlights. Clearly these were meant to build tension, but only succeed in tempting us to check our Facebook notifications. Which I have alot of. Cuz I’m cool.

Overall though, this all adds up to a satisfying package. I was starting to lose hope for book franchise movie adaptations, especially young adult ones. But this franchise has changed things in that regard, and done so for the better. Now lets just hope they can maintain this for the final chapter. Or that they don’t split it into two parts like a bunch of douchebags.

I give Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials a 7 out of 10

I’ll be back in two weeks with a review of the highly anticipated “The Martian” starring Matt “Hard Nips” Damon. Like that nickname? I think it’ll stick.