Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard// Film Critic
Director Wes Ball returns to cinemas this weekend with MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS. The blistering follow-up feature in the hugely successful THE MAZE RUNNER series tells the next chapter in the Gladers’ saga. OG’s – original Gladers, if you will – Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Winston (Alexander Flores) are in for a whole new world of hurt on their way towards freedom. This newest iteration in the fan franchise has them fighting off the blazing heat, wide-spread desolation, humans-turned-zombies called “Cranks,” and WCKD, the nefarious organization hell-bent on re-capturing them to experiment further.
At the film’s recent Los Angeles press day, we caught up with the cast as they spilled the beans on what went into making the sequel to one of the biggest YA franchises.
5. Thomas Brodie-Sangster totally forgot about Newt’s limp. He was deliberate in placing a pebble in his shoe in the original film, but he forgot to do so in the sequel. He explained, “It took me awhile to realize which side my limp was on. I forgot. I believe it’s on the left. No, I didn’t do the rock thing this time. I had big boots on with laces. It was too hard to stick it in.”
4. The writing is on the wall in that tunnel sequence. In breaking out of Jorge’s recently destroyed stronghold, Thomas and Brenda are forced to take the sewer tunnel exit. And it’s just as gross as it sounds – made more disgusting because hardcore underground Cranks are hiding down one of the outlets. Ew! However, Rosa Salazar, who plays bad-ass survivalist Brenda, loved filming that scene – at least from a production design standpoint. “I like the tunnels because they are lit by two flashlights. They are so beautiful. The set dec hand painted them to look like they had been graffiti over years and years. All these messages like, ‘I’m dying here,’ or ‘poop bitch.’ They ranged from that to these amazing little drawings. I had a lot of fun during our breaks walking through, looking at them.”
3. Kaya Scodelario and Dylan O’Brien wrote a scene between Thomas and Teresa. Better watch your back T.S. Nowlin. Scodelario and O’Brien are comin’ for yer job! Well, not really. Scodelario said of the scene where the pair discuss their heights, “Do you know what was cool? We wrote that. We wanted to add a moment of humanity. We wanted to smile at each other. So much of our relationship is based on wanting to survive and get out. We wanted to just take a second and show a bit of love to each other.”
2. Real pyrotechnics were utilized on set. Naturally this added to the danger for a few of the actors. Giancarlo Esposito, who plays Brenda’s surrogate father figure Jorge, mimicked, “Watch out for that barrel on fire! Watch out for those pipes! They’re gonna go at any second!” Salazar added, “Things were like popping out in your face. There was a ton of gunplay for me – with a rifle and a handgun and a whole host of gymnastics. There was a lot to do to get prepared. If you’re not prepared, you could step the wrong way and there goes your leg. It was very active and hard.” “It’s a very physical film,” Esposito concurred.
1. Ki Hong Lee got hurt again. If you remember, in the first film, Lee accidentally pulled his hamstring. This time around he wound up in more serious danger. O’Brien said, “Ki Hong had an appendectomy. And then he had to shoot when he gets tased and dragged off the thing – after his appendectomy.” Lee reluctantly added, “I guess I’m just injury prone.” God only knows what will happen to him on the third and final film. Please proceed more cautiously, okay Ki Hong?
MAZE RUNNER: SCORCH TRIALS opens on September 18. Read our review here.