Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (also known simply as The Scorch Trials) is a 2015 American dystopian science fiction action thriller film based on James Dashner’s novel The Scorch Trials, the second novel in The Maze Runner trilogy. The film is the sequel to the 2014 film The Maze Runner and the second installment in The Maze Runner film series. It was directed by Wes Ball, with a screenplay by T.S. Nowlin. Adding to the original film’s cast of Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, and Patricia Clarkson, the new supporting cast includes Rosa Salazar, Jacob Lofland, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor and Alan Tudyk.
The plot of The Scorch Trials takes place immediately after the previous installment, with Thomas (O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers battling the powerful organization W.C.K.D, while facing the perils of the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with dangerous obstacles. Filming began in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 27, 2014, and officially concluded on January 27, 2015.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials was released in select international territories starting September 9, 2015 in 2D, 3D, 4DX and Barco Escape, and was released on September 18, 2015 in the United States in 2D and Premium Large Format theaters, by 20th Century Fox. It was originally set to be released in IMAX, but this was cancelled, as Everest had all worldwide IMAX screens booked until the release of the film The Walk. Like its predecessor, the film was a commercial success grossing $30.3 million on its opening weekend, making it the ninth-highest grossing debut in September. The film went to the No. 1 spot during its opening weekend, and has currently earned $112 million worldwide.
The Scorch Trials received mixed reviews, with some critics calling it an improvement over its predecessor – commending its action sequences and performances – while others criticized the film for its lack of plot and character advancement. According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it received a lower rating than the previous installment, therefore, making it lowest-rated Maze Runner film of the franchise. A sequel, titled Maze Runner: The Death Cure, is scheduled to be released on February 17, 2017.
The film begins with a young boy, Thomas, taken in by Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) and her organization WCKD, after being dropped off by his guardian for his own safety. Years later, shortly after being rescued from the maze trials, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the remaining Gladers – Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa Agnes (Kaya Scodelario), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Winston (Alexander Flores) – are taken to a facility run by Mr. Janson (Aidan Gillen). He explains that the facility is a safe haven, protecting them from WCKD, the Flare virus and the Cranks, and provides them clothes, food, and sanitation, where there are other survivors of multiple mazes are also present. Thomas becomes curious about their activities and manages to find out what is really happening behind the closed doors. With help from Aris Jones (Jacob Lofland), the first maze survivor to end up in the facility, it is revealed that WCKD’s leader, Ava, is still alive and that Mr. Janson is working for WCKD, as they discuss about the experiment on the Immunes and that Janson has yet to find The Right Arm, a resistance group located at the mountains. The group, including Aris, escapes the facility, as Janson orders his WCKD troops to track them down, where they find themselves in the deserted outside world – the Scorch.
The group arrive at an abandoned marketplace, where they first encounter with the Cranks, humans zombified by the Flare virus. Winston gets infected by one of the them in the process. When morning comes, they find the city has turned into ruins and that WCKD is still searching for them. Winston’s infection gets worse, forcing the rest of the group to leave him alone to die by shooting himself, preventing his transformation. The group continues to venture the desert until one night, while sleeping in the middle of the desert, Thomas awakens and discovers civilization from far away. As a thunderstorm emerges, they run to an abandoned facility to keep them from the storm. Minho gets struck by the lightning, but he manages to survive. They manages to enter the place, only to find out that the facility they entered was filled with chained Cranks. The group meets Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito), who lead a dangerous band of survivors and have used the Cranks as their own guard dogs. When the two find that the group had come from WCKD and is looking for the Right Arm, the two agree to take them to the Right Arm, abandoning their group of survivors. Moments later, WCKD, led by Janson, storms the place, only for the facility to be destroyed by Jorge’s explosives, while Thomas and Brenda are left behind as the rest have escaped with Jorge. Thomas and Brenda manage to escape the Cranks, only for Brenda to get infected by a Crank in the process. Thomas experiences a flashback of when he and Teresa were working for WCKD, in which Thomas tries to warn Teresa of WCKD’s plans, only for the two to be separated by WCKD’s troops. As Thomas and Brenda reunite with the rest of the group, Jorge interrogates Marcus (Alan Tudyk), a survivor who secretly works for WCKD, into revealing the whereabouts of The Right Arm.
The group eventually arrive at The Right Arm’s location, where other innocent survivors are present, and are greeted by Vince (Barry Pepper) who leads the Right Arm and is in charge of deciding whether they can stay or not. As Brenda’s infection gets worse, Vince threaten to shoot Brenda, only to be stopped by Mary Cooper (Lili Taylor), a former WCKD scientist who reveals that Thomas was their informant. As Mary halts Brenda’s infection using an enzyme cure, Mary explains that the enzyme can only be harvested from an Immune’s body, not manufactured, and that arguments over the methods of manufacturing the cure with Ava lead Mary’s departure from WCKD. That evening, Teresa calls WCKD of her location, believing that WCKD’s motivations are good, leading to an ambush by WCKD. Ava and Janson arrive and confront the Right Arm as the WCKD troops captures survivors for experimentation, including Minho, while Janson shoots Mary dead. After Thomas and the Right Arm fend the WCKD troops off, Ava, Janson and Teresa leave with their captured survivors. With only a fraction of survivors at the location, Thomas plans an infiltration into WCKD and is determined to take them down to save his friends and save civilization. Thomas’ friends and the Right Arm agree to help Thomas, as they prepare to fight back.