I don’t know if I liked last year’s debut of The Maze Runner better than this year’s release of The Scorch Trials or not, or if a comparison even needs to be made. Both were directed wonderfully by Wes Ball, and both contain the same talented cast with some pleasant additions. The difference lies in that this second film seems really big – as in “let’s overwhelm the audience with as many genres as we can and see if we get away with it” big – and that may be to its detriment.
Because while the story Scorch Trials still adheres to the young-adult/escape-the-dystopia narrative, the film takes a strange leap into the now-too-common zombie apocalypse before returning to stasis. Yes, it provided for some entertaining moments and jump scares, but it was mostly uninspired amusement that was as dry as the desert landscape which surrounded it. If the film’s style had remained closer to the same throughout instead of switching mid-stream, it could have been a little more effective in getting its message across.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the film, and that is mainly because of the acting. The original cast once again delivers an awesome performance. We are now introduced to four new standout members, though. First, Aidan Gillen shows us how deliciously wicked (heh) Jansen is. Then Giancarlo Esposito (you know, Gus from Breaking Bad) joins as Jorge with Rosa Salazar as his daughter Brenda, and the two of them make a fine chemistry of father and daughter. And finally, Barry Pepper joins as the ominous Vince, the helper and ringleader of the mountain people.
Overall, I was entertained and am now left wanting more (as any good middle-movie should do). I think the bares bones of the story could have been communicated without venturing off into the paw-paw patch of zombies, but it was still entertaining. Now I just have to wait for that third movie to come out before I decide to read the books (hey, it worked for The Hobbit and is in the works for The Lord of the Rings trilogy; it’s just how I roll).
The Christian Angle: The Willing Sacrifice
SPOILER ALERT! This Christian Angle relies on spoiling a minor plot point, so proceed with caution.
Thomas and Aris stumble upon the missing members of their party, and what those two find is that those members have been strung up by some intravenous tubes. These friends are being harvested for an enzyme – that can only be chemically derived from blood – that makes them immune to whatever disease is ailing the rest of the population and turning them into zombies (yes, like I said before, more zombies).
The only problem is that these friends and everyone else in the warehouse are being harvested for this “cure.” W.C.K.D. has taken it upon itself to capture these kids and drain this enzyme without the other’s consent. Therein lies the big question: even if it is for the greater good – even if it means harvesting the cure for everyone while killing a few to provide it – is it right?
It’s a classic example of a moral dilemma, and not many of those make it around these days. In a world that doesn’t support absolutes anymore but instead rests comfortably in the notion that there’s always a way to divert oneself from making a difficult decision, a moral dilemma seems arbitrary and even whimsical. The overload of choices, then, can become another deterrent to making the right decision. One may choose one way, then at the slightest hiccup, immediately regret making that choice. Thomas, on the other hand, knew the right choice: save the people now, work out a solution later.
Thomas, in making that choice, then became a willing sacrifice for his friends. Not only that, but he even gave up some of his own blood in order to save Brenda. He didn’t need W.C.K.D. to sweep him up with an IV and steal his blood; he gave it freely. So what if it didn’t cure Brenda completely; it helped her in the moment, and that’s all that was needed.
That’s the kind of sacrifice God calls us to: the willing sacrifice. Romans 12:1 calls it the “living sacrifice;” dead to the self but alive and sustaining for others. It’s exactly what Jesus went through, so it should be what we go through in some form or fashion. That way, when a moral dilemma approaches, we’ll know what choice to make and what action to take because Jesus showed us how.
And if you need The Scorch Trials to talk about that kind of sacrifice, then go watch it.