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The Scorch Trials

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I hate terrible book to film adaptations. Especially if the source material is excellent. Enter The Maze Runner. A book pentology published starting in 2009 to 2016, but recently got the silver screen treatment. WARNING, spoilers spoilers spoilers! You've been warned.

Young adult dystopian fiction has been all the rage lately, but the trend has been to be excellent for a book or two and then completely shit the bed on the third book. Yes, I'm looking at you Hunger Games. Mockingjay was truly a modern masterpiece in shit happening off screen and then we get told it happened and how awesome it was! Ironically the movie polished the turd that was the third book. That film really needed an editor, but I digress.The first book of Divergent was fabulous. Insurgent was good, but then it started to go downhill in Allegiant. Stop talking about your feelings and show me more post apocalyptic dystopian, ugh. Hold on, I'm going way off the rails here. The point is I started reading The Maze Runner with apprehension, but the framing device of using teenagers is actually a relevant part of the plot rather than an excuse to shoe horn in some PG-13 porn.

I'm about halfway down with the third book, The Death Cure. I've been watching the movies shortly after finishing each respective book. The Maze Runner film was good, but it dropped a few plot points like telepathy between Thomas and Teresa which is a huge plot device in the second book, The Scorch Trials. WICKED became WCKD because they saved a fortune on monogramming. They dropped the serum that WICKED provides to save Gladers from Grievers stings until they magically found some. They got rid of the magical Griever hole and the Cliff, but arguably that streamlined what works well in written text, but not on screen. At the very end, WICKED fakes their deaths rather than talking to the kids and then being "murdered" by the rescuers. All in all a rather faithful adaptation and a great set up for the next film for those who have read the book.

Here is where everything goes off the rails.

In the beginning of The Scorch Trials in the book, they are fed and made to feel safe. They wake up and all the rescuers have been killed and are hanging from the ceiling. A random scientist guy shows up and tells them they're in phase two of the trials and to get 100 miles north in a certain of time or they're dead, also they all have been infected with the Flare (virus that makes people go crazy).

Why is this important?

1. It gives them a sense of urgency
2. It gives them a sense of purpose
3. The title of the book is THE SCORCH TRIALS

They discover that there was another test group in a Maze, Group B. They also get tattoos on their necks with various descriptions that foreshadow events to play out in the book.


In fact the movie makes it seem like there are more than two mazes. There very well might have been, but the book sets up very clearly that there were two groups A and B. A was all boys with one girl and B was all girls with one boy. All of this nonsense set up to map brain activity to figure out a cure to the Flare.

Since there is no sense of urgency, Thomas gets a weird feeling about their rescuers and meets up with Aris (who is the boy from Group B) and they discover that the rescuers are in fact WICKED and they are siphoning their brains for the cure. What? No. Not only does that not happen, but blueprints from the "killzone" (the area in the brain where the Flare does damage) can be downloaded from chips they have in their brain. It doesn't require making them vegetables hanging from the roof next to vats that look like baby grievers (which would actually be interesting as a book reader, but they don't revisit that again).

In the book, the Flare is a degenerative disease that is airborne and got released from a military facility shortly after the Earth was rocked with massive solar flares, killing most of the population, widespread devastation, etc.. You can catch it and over time you slowly go mad, like rabies. As people approach the "Gone" they act like wild animals.

FUCK THAT, says the movie. You know what's hot these days? FUCKING ZOMBIES!

Sure the final stage in the book is zombie-esque, but they can talk and communicate and that's way creepier. In fact Thomas and Brenda interact with Cranks that are super gone in the underground. NOPE NO NUANCE FOR YOU MOIVE-GOERS. It's no longer airborne, everyone that gets it immediately turns into a flesh crazed zombie. And you only get it by being bitten, scratched, etc... Are you fucking kidding me?

God knows how this is going to work into the third movie because we learn that some people are immune to the Flare (which makes sense if it's airborne!) in the second book and it drives a lot of the plot in the beginning half of the third book.

Thomas and company meet Jorge and Brenda who are supposedly cranks leading their own little raiding party. Remember that you can be infected without being a zombie. Also they were WICKED plants because they were immune. Well all of that is gone. Jorge and Brenda are just two random people in the Scorch and Brenda gets bit at one point so she's about to turn into a super zombie, BUT WAIT THERE'S A MAGIC POTION! Because the movie has established that hours after getting bit you turn. So this magic solution delays the effects by "months" according to the field medic lady. Well in the book there is a drug called "Bliss" but that is mainly to hide the symptoms of rapidly degenerating due to a Flare infection, but we'll have none of that!

Oh and this medic lady is part of The Right Arm, a resistance movement against WICKED.


Ok, maybe they are teeing up for the third book where The Right Arm is a major plot point where a person that we thought was dead from the first book is actually alive and member of the resistance. I won't name them because I haven't finished it yet and not sure of the ramifications or if it's a giant red herring. Group A and B are supposed to be competing to get to "The Safe Haven" where there is a cure for the Flare that they've all been infected with. Remember the sense of urgency? No girls group. Only one small ragtag band of 7 Gladers. In the book there are many more and lot of them get killed.


You can have action without sacrificing the plot or character development. Adapting a book to film and completely throwing out the plot is like generating blueprints for a house and then just winging it. Why is the deck upside down and made out of balsa wood? Apparently the guy who co-wrote the first and wrote this movie is back for the third. Fuck.

1 Comments On This Entry

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16 April 2016 - 03:40 PM
Welp just finished the third book...

The tradition continues. I haven't been this unsatisfied since Prometheus.


Why did the government(s) waste years on the blueprints when they could just isolate a group of immunes for the purpose of restarting the human race?
If cities could not be quarantined, where the hell did the group go at the end?
Is there some Garden of Eden that magically survived the solar flares?
Who was Thomas' mom?
How exactly did the original creators die? Did they get the Flare?
Why, once the original adults behind WICKED died, did everyone take orders from a couple teenagers?
Why exactly was Thomas so special?
Was the bullshittery in the third book just another trial?
Did Rat man actually have the Flare at the end?
What was the Right Arm's next move after blowing up WICKED's headquarters?
Where the hell did the chancellor go?
What purpose did Teresa serve by just dying at the end?
Why didn't Newt just tell Thomas to kill him went he was too far gone?


Since the third movie is going to be fan fiction like the second, they'll probably glaze over all of this and just have a big pew pew battle at the end. Woof. Hope the prequels have some damn answers.
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