After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.
REVIEW with LOTS of SPOILERS from third paragraph on.
Well, a word of advice first. This movie is not an adaptation of the book of the same title. There are few familiar characters but entire plotlines and motivations are changed beyond recognition. IT’S NOTHING LIKE IT. Why the relatively high rating then you may wonder. Because I decided to treat it like a separate verse and made peace with it. (Fanfiction readers may be familiar with this term – verse is basically a collection of stories taking place in a separate universe from the official canon.) The first movie is different from the book as well, so I think it prudent to separate book and movie verse of The Maze Runner. I’m torn which version I prefer and I think my final judgement will be reached once the last movie comes out.
It is action packed and dynamic enough to please any dystopia fan but don’t expect too deep moral questions or dilemmas. The guys are still runners only their maze has gotten bigger and deadlier. WCKD reveals more of its shady side and all doubts about their plans are erased. Recommend.
-start of spoilers –
So, what are the main differences? First off, there is more than one maze. There are many groups of people who went through similar trials to escape. Thomas is suspicious of the man in charge of the ‘save haven’ Janson, and the strict rules, guards, and locked doors. (It’s Littlefinger! Duh on the untrustworthiness part.)*
*Aidan Gillen should play a good guy one of these days just so that he’d freak everyone out. Can you imagine the plot twist when you’ve naturally suspected him of something nefarious the entire movie and he’s the only genuine guy? It’s almost like Sean Bean not dying.
They are helped by a lone member of another group who had his doubts. Aris helps Thomas figure out they are still captives of WCKD and that the company is harvesting something from the blood of other maze survivors. This revelation and the confirmed survival of Ava Paige push Thomas towards open rebellion. Together with his small group of friends he fights through the compound to save Teresa who’s been taken to the medical bay. They run into the Scorch followed by soldiers.
The Scorch is none other than our world devastated by solar flares and turned into a desert. To top it off, it is populated with zombies, ups, Cranks. In this verse, Cranks are people who are super fast, super hungry, and super creepy. This is what the Flare does to you. I jumped a couple of times in my seat because, damn, are they fast. It’s bad when you wish for Walking Dead style of mortal peril – at least those horrors are slow. So, plus for horror factor, but minus for completely changing the disease.
Now that I was feeling almost too scared for our guys and Winston who got scratched, they had to cross a large swath of pure desert. Just when I thought Winston had a chance it turns out this version of the Flare acts far quicker and he chooses to die before turning. I felt his character death served little purpose because the similarities with zombie scenarios were too big to ignore. No need to tell us it is bad to get bit, scratched or otherwise injured by Cranks – we get it.
A freaky storm and a long journey over, we meet two characters that were totally rewritten – Brenda and Jorge. Did I mention Teresa is acting strange? Remember that because it will come up again and again. It is also revealed that all WCKD subjects have microchips in their necks. Some of the Scorch inhabitants want to trade our Gladers to WCKD for supplies but Jorge and Brenda have other plans. Just then Janson appears again and our group is separated in the escape.
Brenda and Thomas must find a way through Crank infested tunnels. Zombie flashbacks all the time. It was intense, especially since these creatures climb like Spiderman. Seriously?! Argh, zombies are not allowed to do that, you hear me?
Another scenario from the book is the forced drinking of some drugs and a party when they reach the city. Thomas, as usual, has some pretty nasty visions while he’s tripping. Thank god the rest of the group comes to the rescue and they get a car for their getaway towards the rebel compound somewhere in the mountains. Jorge is a great guy to know.
Thomas is recognized there by Mary, one of the scientists who joined the rebels once the shady methods in WCKD came out. She reveals it was Thomas who leaked information about WCKD in order to save his friends before his mind wipe and relocation. He was the mole and the rebel leader is only too glad to take in his group. Brenda who got bit during the escape collapses. Of course Mary whips up a temporary cure from Thomas’ blood and all seems fine. We all know something bad is going to happen soon, especially since Teresa is acting suspiciously.
Teresa still believes WCKD is doing the right thing harvesting the cure even though Mary warned that it was only temporary and larger doses had to be administered. She calls in Janson with a stolen device. Thomas learns of this too late and soldiers defeat the rebels. Then Ava flies in with a large carrier making some high-handed remarks. It’s the villains who think they are doing right that are the most dangerous.
Jorge and Brenda who had managed to escape return to help before everyone is loaded onto the carrier. The rebels fight off the soldiers but most of the escaped WCKD subjects are already in the carrier, including Minho. Teresa is there of her own will still claiming WCKD is doing the right thing. Never mind that they were ready to kill all rebels because they had no value to WCKD. (I also did not buy her sob story about her Crank mother. Yes, it was traumatising and horrible what happened, but that doesn’t give anyone right to string up people like meat and harvest them like tomatoes. Ugh – they could have asked anyone to donate blood. I bet nobody would say no if it helped people.)
Now that all plans are ruined and his friend gone, Thomas is done with running away and decides to fight. How he’ll manage to take on a global military organisation and save Minho will be revealed in the next movie.
Summary of similarities
So, in the entire movie we have a couple of similarly named characters, two small scenarios from the book, and nothing else you’d recognize. I just hope they haven’t spoiled me with anything form the third book because I fear they are pulling stuff from all over the books.