There are very few truly great book-to-movie adaptations out there. The main issue is that much of what happens in a book is inner monologue and details that you really don’t get to see on-screen. Add that to the fact that most movie adaptations will alter or change the story to either fit everything into a two-hour film or appease a wider audience, and you usually end up at least a little disappointed. Seriously, have you seen the movie The Natural starring Robert Redford? The book and movie are almost completely different in both tone and ending.
But that does not necessarily make one better than the other. But if you are a fan of the book you will inherently hate parts of the movie and (I assume) vice-versa. This same thought process holds true for the new installment of the Maze Runner series called Scorch Trials. If you were a fan of the books, like I was, you will find yourself disappointed that it is extremely different in the movie adaptation. And I do not mean that they took out a scene here or there or took away a couple of characters– I mean that the “Scorch Trial” book and movie might as well be two completely different and unrelated stories.
However, that does necessarily mean that the movie was bad– and while I DID have trouble separating the book from the movie while watching it in theaters (my enjoyment of the film being altered due to this), I will attempt to be as objective as possible (if that is even possible to be objective about anything…) while discusses Maze Runner: Scorch Trials THE MOVIE.
After finally escaping the maze and taking shelter with a rebel group, Thomas(Dylan O’Brien) and his band of glade-peoples are escorted to a secret facility where they are to spend their time until the top-brass decide that they are allowed to be taken far away–to a safe place. Thomas, however, believes that this group may not have the best intentions. When another boy from a different “maze” group shows up and shows him that kids aren’t being whisked away to Neverland, but are being sedated and utilized and cure-makers as well as finding out the facility is merely an outpost for WICKD, Thomas and his friends decide to escape. However, they are completely unprepared for the danger that awaits them.
The “Scorch” as Jansen, the rebel leader calls it, is a uninhabitable waste-land that was once called earth. It is filled with infected people–called “cranks” that slowly deteriorate into madness and eventually attack everyone and everything in their path. Thomas and his friends resolve to join the “Right Arm”, a rebel group said to fight against all of WICKD’s atrocities, so that they might find safe passage to a cleaner place away from the world’s problems.
Let me first get some differences off my chest– because quite honestly…if I don’t… it is just going to bother me.
The book is completely different from practically beginning to end. The Gladers ARE taken to w WICKD facility, and even find another group that was in a Maze of their own. But they really only see one other group– of all women (and one male, opposite of Thoma’s group) and they are told that they are all “infected” with the flare and that they would have to go from their facility to a place past the mountains in a certain amount of time. Upon arrival, they would be given the cure. In essence, the book fits the name “Scorch Trials” much better because they literally had to go through more “trials” set forth by WICKD to continue their testing. They are unwilling participants again in the book.
The movie, on the other hand has them finding out that they are WICKD and only having a small group of them escape and they spend the whole movie fleeing from WICKD. Additionally, ***spoiler**** Theresa does betray Thomas in the book, but it is more a betrayal to keep him safe rather than to satisfy her own ends like she did in the movie.
Finally, the town that they find themselves in during the “Scorch Trials” in the book, has tons of messages and signs all over town that refer to Thomas as the “real leader”– which has more importance in the group as the brands found on their bodies title each of the gladers with a role, like “The Leader” or “The Glue”, but that is of little importance in the movie. What made it interesting in the book is that it made Thomas, specifically, a target by would-be cranks looking to make a buck or get themselves a cure from WICKD.
The are just a few differences– but there are so many more, so take it for what it is worth.
And to telepathy? Really?
Ignoring all of the changes, however, the movie was quite enjoyable overall. O’Brien plays a very convincing reluctant leader of sorts as he wrestles with the idea of wanting to survive but also not wanting to abandon anyone. This puts him in many tight and dangerous situations throughout the movie and you get the impression that it might be a character trait that will change by the end of the series. It is fine to be altruistic– but when the world is crumbling, literally, all around you, sometimes you cannot always save everyone. His on-screen relationship and trust of Minho (Ki Hong Lee), is also something I need to note because it is done extremely well and carried over from the first movie perfectly. I hope to see more of it in the next film!
The betrayal of Theresa could have been done better, I think, and it isn’t developed the way it should be in my opinion. The impact of her betrayal in the book hits way harder, in part, because no one really trusts her from the Glade– no one every really did– accept Thomas. He spends most of his time defending her– only to be betrayed. After which, even after she explains that she did it to save his life, Thomas really can never trust her again but is forced to worth with her. Theresa’s cinematic betrayal was done both way to obvious and much too permanent. You understood, quite early in the film, that she was not to be trusted which makes the impact of the betrayal a bit of a let down. Additionally she did so much as betray someones trust– she became a turncoat that quite clearly fights for WICKD and wants that organization to win. She is definitely needed in the next movie so I am not sure how they are going to overcome thing hurdle….
The effects were really cool– I was excited to see the lightning storm play out on-screen and I was not at all disappointed. It was just as frightening and menacing in the books as it was on-screen. I certainly wouldn’t want to be caught out in the storm anyways! Additionally, there are some really solid action sequences throughout the film– one in particular had me doubling over feeling the pain of the actor, I will let you figure out which scene that is. All I will say is, do not mess with Minho!
WICKD’s sort of futuristic overseer-style of leadership is also another facet that plays out really well on-screen especially given the fact that a group of teen boys who have very little “outside-world” knowledge are able to escape. They are truly menacing in the film and I have to tip my hat to Jansen (Aiden Gillen) who really brought a lot of depth to a character that was sort of one-dimensional in the books. He played a bigger role in this film than I thought he would and carried the mantle of main-villain admirably from beginning to end. He even has enough charm and wit to be somewhat likable while doing it as well.
The biggest flaw, as a film, that Scorch Trial commits– is being somewhat all over the map in terms of content. They go from barren-dessert to shady night club, which actually happens in the book so I can even work with that. But at one point they are even on an entirely normal and well put-together road just taking a Sunday stroll. Immediately after, they are back to barren wasteland getting shot at by would-be bandits. It just makes it hard to stay focused on the film with so many different places and themes. It is as if the movie was just a bunch of random one-off stories put together in a sort of cinematic anthology.
Also, were the cranks just recycled from the zombies in the I Am Legend film?
As a fan of the book, I really was not a fan of the cinematic plot– it just seemed like way too many unnecessary changes to me. What followed was a very convoluted sequence of events that might have been better off as short films rather than one full movie. (10/20)
Minho and Thomas have great on-screen chemistry and I love seeing them together– even if I found Brenda, Thomas’s eventual love interest, was a bit hit or miss. Overall, though, the characters balanced heavy plot-points and humor effortlessly. (17/20)
The acting was solid throughout the film, with Aiden Gillen really shinning as the main villain of the movie. (18/20)
The movie was a bit all over the place, jumping from barren desert to up-beat shady night club. It made it hard to keep interest in the film and you find yourself often losing focus, questions how they got from one scene to the next. (10/30)
Ad-Campaign (out of 10)
I can take or leave the ad-campaign…. it didn’t help or hurt the movie. (5/10)