The filmmaker discusses heading back to the director’s chair for the second time with The Maze Runner sequel.
“I wasn’t going to do the second one originally but the cast were the reason that I came back.” Director Wes Ball is referring to his second feature film, The Scorch Trials; the second instalment of dystopian science fiction adventure series The Maze Runner.
The director returns for the next chapter, which sees sixteen-year-old Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers search for the unknown answers leading back to their experience with the powerful organization WCKD in The Maze Runner. However, this time around the teenagers are headed to the Scorch; the forsaken landscape filled with a series of unimaginable obstacles.
“It was really just a matter of us trying to do the biggest movie we could with the little time we had”, says Ball, “it was that sense of getting back on the horse again.” As well as reuniting with the original cast of The Maze Runner – notably Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario and Patricia Clarkson – the director also welcomed new members to the team including: Rosa Salazar, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor. Giancarlo Esposito and Aidan Gillen. “Someone once said that 90% of a director’s job is casting and thankfully I have an awesome casting director”, recalls Ball, “We found the best actors around: it really was a dream scenario.”
Ball adapts the bestselling novel series from American author James Dashner that landed on the New York Times Best Seller list for over 100 weeks. However, with four books on the series so far, Ball asserts that each tale is significantly and characteristically singular. “It’s a very different movie: the first one was about mystery and intrigue”, he affirms, “This time, it was very much about being pursued off this landscape with that momentum and adrenaline which changed things quite a bit.” The director adds, “People will find that this one is a bit more suspenseful but it’s the same great characters that people fell in love with.”
As well as the shift in tones for The Scorch Trials, the filming process was another aspect that was vastly different from the first. The Mazz Runner saw a production of just 42 days in the sweltering heat of Louisiana whereas Ball’s second feature was made on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico with 94 days of filming. “We’re not in the glade anymore; we’re moving constantly”, asserts Ball, “each day was a new challenge but working with the same, great people around you and you can do it.”
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In addition, the young cast had to embark on a boot camp training course. “I like seeing real people do things so they definitely had a lot of training”, asserts Ball, “They had to get conditioned to this mile-high city in Albuquerque, and the atmosphere is much lower there because we’re so high up.”
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials continues our momentous and contemporary fascination with the dystopian action-adventure film with Wes Ball seeping up every opportunity with tension. Another surprise incorporated into the anticipated sequel is the modernised ‘monster-like’ creatures, which are truly chilling onscreen. “We don’t want to pull any punches – we want it to be very real, raw”, the director confirms, “There’s nothing grotesque or gratuitous about it but we want to make it as tense as we can.”
This post was sponsored by Cineworld.