Thursday, October 01, 2015

"Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials": Dylan O'Brien is the lead of a bunch of nice but tough kids in a dystopian sci-fi series that seems to target Marxist thought

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”, directed by Wes Ball, based on the novel by James Dashner, is (in business terms) effectively “Maze Runner II” even though this time there is no maze, rather an arbitrary detention station, a wasted landscape, and some itinerant camps.
Dylan O’Brien returns as Tom as the “ring leader”.  (Yes, Richard Harmon could have played the role, and has a similar demeanor.)  Dylan is ultimately charismatic and pretty to look at – as if to say that it is the male who should be admired for visual beauty (like a red cardinal); the women in the film aren’t particularly special in the heterosexual world. He should get roughed up a lot more than he does (at one point, he does a direct blood plasma donation), as he always looks unscathed.  The other kids, of proper diversity (including somewhat masculine women) but all articulate, educated, and upper middle class, are able to form what amounts to a special forces unit with no military training.  The Rangers or the Navy Seals could use them.  They’re all likeable and of dependable character. Our politicians could learn from them.

The film prelude shows Tom dreaming of the days things went bad, and then we’re thrust into a situation where the kids are all bunked in underground barracks and, at mess, called a few at a time each day.  Tom gets restless and figures out how to break out and spy on the powers that be – and it’s all about mining people’s bodies to develop cures to the Flare Virus that turns everyone infected into zombies (who are pretty effectively created by CGI for the film).  It seems that Tom and most of his friends are somehow immune – and therefore valuable to the evil “government” which seems a bit Marxist (so this could be seen as “conservative film”).

The kids break out, and soon find a destroyed city in a desert (all the high rises are crumbling, as if people had disappeared for 500 years, like in the History series “Life After People”). A replica of the George Washington Bridge sits in the middle of it, but the New Mexico Sierra looms in the distance.
There follows an odyssey of all kinds of escapes, including an incredible dry lightning storm of what meteorologists call “positive lightning”. Finally, they encounter their captors, and the master doctor played by Patricia Clarkson herself. 

There’s a geography issue: at one point late in the film, the kids find themselves emerging into the ruined city from a distant underground camp, when they should be twenty miles from it.

The parallel to my own screenplay isn’t so clear with this film as with the first one, but that’s why I made the effort to see it in a good theater – the Angelica Mosaic in Merrifield VA today (small daytime audience). 

The official site is here (20th Century Fox).

Picture: Near Texas-New Mexico border, my 2011 trip. 

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