“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is directed by Wes Ball, and stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Ki Hong Lee.  This movie is the sequel to the 2014 film, “The Maze Runner,” and is about the kids from the Glade facing new challenges that await them once escaping the Maze.

“The Maze Runner” was a film that left me with a middling opinion.  I did not hate it, but it also didn’t blow me away by any means.  The sequel to the mediocre young-adult book adaptation is — once again — mediocre.  

There are, however, some parts of this film that did feel drastically improved.  The action in this movie is revved up and incredibly entertaining, while also being shot fairly well.  The acting is also solid, specifically from the lead, Dylan O’Brien.  O’Brien shows his ability to be the leader of the group, while also showing his lack of knowledge and innocence to what is happening around them.  

There were moments where I did feel the thrills and suspense, but often they were taken away by some sort of convenience. Whenever the group had a feeling that there was no way out, something unknown to the audience or completely random came to save the day.  

Now, I have not read these books, so this review is not about the accuracy to the books, it is about the quality of the film itself.  With that being said, the plot feels like just a mess.  The way it is told on screen makes it extremely hard to follow, and often had me confused on whom to root for.  

The real problem that the film suffers from is just how similar it feels to every other young adult film adaptation I’ve ever seen.  With “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent,” “Harry Potter” and others that won’t be named (*cough* Twilight *cough*), there is just no room for “The Maze Runner” series to show its own creativity.  Whether it is on accident or blatant theft, numerous scenes had me feeling like I’ve seen this very same thing before.  

This movie also goes way too long.  131 minutes is absolutely absurd for a movie like this, especially when there are scenes that feel completely unnecessary to the shape of the plot.  I did, however, truly enjoy the conclusion to this movie.  No spoilers, but it did have me on the edge of my seat a bit. Unlike the rip-off ending that “The Maze Runner” gave, this film has a solid ending that made me a little excited for the conclusion to the trilogy.  

(Yes, this last book won’t be split into two parts, take that every other book trilogy).

Overall, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” improves on its predecessor in some ways, but also feels like a step back in others.  The action is upped and well-shot, the acting performances are solid and the conclusion is a good one to get me excited for the final film.  

However, the story is way too scattered, there are plot conveniences everywhere, and the movie drags about twenty minutes too long.  On a scale of young adult books turned movies, this one falls between the solid “Hunger Games” trio and the below par “Divergent” films.  So, it’s just a little bit above average.