Johnny Depp and evil grandparents didn’t stand a chance.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials dominated the box office last weekend -- securing the top spot with a worldwide haul of $108 million -- and trumped typical box office like found-footage horror movies (M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit) and anything starring Johnny Depp (unrecognizable, this time, as a Boston gangster in Black Mass).
After watching this latest installment, we’re not surprised the Maze Runner franchise keeps exceeding expectations. Au contraire, we are surprised that people are still surprised that it keeps doing so well. Below, we speculate why:
It’s Every YA Hit Before It Rolled Into One: Scorch Trials’ recipe for success is basically taking elements from every franchise flick that’s already succeeded and mixing them together. It’s got kids fighting for their lives in an oppressive dystopian society. Very The Hunger Games.
There is a love triangle -- kind of? -- between Dylan O’Brien’s Thomas, Kaya Scodelario’s Teresa, and new addition Brenda (Rosa Salazar). Though mostly Brenda just gets shafted like Jacob in the Twilight movies. They trip balls at one point, which is like...well, whatever YA movie it is, we want to see more of it. Project X? And then there are zombies thrown in for good measure, because zombies are so hot right now.
The Action is A+: For such a simplistic plot -- “We need to get from A to B! Then, at the end of the movie, we’re going back to A!” -- The Scorch Trials makes things awfully complicated.
Which is why the trailers heavily showcased the action sequences, which are genuinely exhilarating, over too much talk about WICKED and whoever Patricia Clarkson plays and WTF is even happening. On that end, the movie delivers. O’Brien does look awesome sliding under that door! The zombies will pop out at the exact right moment to scare you! There are so many explosions! So, so many explosions!
It Appeals to Teenage Boys and Girls: Even though women buy more tickets to movies -- that’s an empirical fact -- Hollywood still caters to teen boys. Women tend to be more open-minded in terms of what they are willing to see though, vis-a-vis teenage girls will go see something male-driven, like Maze Runner, whereas boys might not be as willing to see, say, one of those Divergent films.
It would explain why the girls are featured more prominently in the trailer than any of their male equivalents, despite not necessarily doing more in the actual movie. Brenda gets a few cool sequences, and everyone is like, “Teresa Teresa Teresa Teresa Teresa,” though she’s mostly just present. It’s the studio saying, ‘Hey girls, this could be for you, too!’
Dylan O’Brien Is a Bonafide Movie Star: He’s effortlessly charming, both on and off-screen. He’s able to maneuver between comedy and dramatic action hero stuff with ease. He’s handsome. Basically, he’s Chris Pratt, if Chris Pratt acted opposite werewolves more. He's going to be huge, and we can’t wait to see what he does after he breaks out of the YA mold.
Now, find out how O’Brien hurt himself showing off his Scorch Trials stunts: