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The Maze Runner – Scorch Trials (John Paesano)

September 3, 2015


John Paesano, 2015, Sony Music
21 tracks, 76:01

Last year’s “The Maze Runner” proved a highly enjoyable score. Can John Paesano work his magic once more on the sequel “Scorch Trials”?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Directed by Wes Ball, “Scorch Trails” is the sequel to last year’s hit “The Maze Runner”. The so-called Glades are still on the run, albeit in a desolate but open landscape rather than a maze.

Returning to score the picture is John Paesano whose “The Maze Runner” proved a highly enjoyable and energetic work, channelling the spirit of Goldsmith, Horner and Williams.

What does it sound like?

About three minutes into “Opening” I recognise the main theme… or the main chords. I noted in my review for “The Maze Runner” that the theme wasn’t particularly memorable. It still isn’t, and it bothers me slightly more this time. “Scorch Trials” is a fast-paced, action-packed score, but without the clear guidance of a main theme its 76-minute running time feels really long.

“Cranks!”, “Lights”, “Leaning Tower of Scorch” are powerful and very cool action cues with racing strings and thunderous percussion. String arpeggios play a large role throughout this score, as it did last time. At times, it reminds me of “Bourne Identity”. On the whole, the score sounds darker than its predecessor, as if there’s a greater emphasis on the lower registers. The synths are mainly providing bass lines and granulated arpeggios, whereas last time they delivered a greater variety of sounds, and even melodies (in slighter higher registers). The action writing for strings and brass is still impressive, though they are overpowered by layers of percussion.

Most of the action cues appear during the first half (up to two-thirds) of the album. Paesano’s action writing easily impresses, but it’s very full-on and gets exhausting after a while. The last third of the album (from track 13 onwards) offers a more subdued landscape. There are a few quieter, reflective cues such as “Goodbye”, “Friends”, “The Source”, “The Cure”, “Chat With Brenda” and “A Home For Us”. Soft strings and synth pads dominate these cues. A faint piano may be heard here or there. With the thunderous “Tired of Running” and the introspective “What’s Next” the album comes to an epic and satisfying end, albeit an overdue one.

Is it any good?

The main theme is not particularly memorable and it doesn’t seem to appear much throughout the score (and if it does, it’s barely noticeable because the melodic content is so subtle). Without a strong lead, the album feels long and a little unfocused (though, stylistically it’s very coherent). It could easily have been twenty minutes shorter. It’s also, naturally, lacking the ‘surprise factor’ of the previous score; and feels like more of the same. Where “The Maze Runner” felt influenced by various masters, “Scorch Trials” feels more like a typical, modern action score. Well… still much better than most other action scores, but it feels less special than its prequel. Beyond that criticism, the music is as dense and complex as it was first time round. The marriage between orchestra and synths is fantastic, and the complexity of the composition is more than satisfying. There are plenty of lengthy of cues to give the music a chance to develop and gain (and keep) momentum. And the music is super-slick and very cool a lot of the time.

Rating [3/5]


1. Opening (3.58)
2. Your New Lives (2.59)
3. Follow Me (2.44)
4. The Farm (3.28)
5. You’re Not Getting Out Of Here (6.48)
6. The Mall (5.30)
7. Cranks! (4.38)
8. The Scorch (2.31)
9. Goodbye (3.20)
10. Lights (3.45)
11. Uninvited Guest (5.00)
12. Leaning Tower Of Scorch (6.53)
13. Friends (1.58)
14. The Source (3.00)
15. The Cure (2.16)
16. Chat With Brenda (2.04)
17. A Home For Us (1.39)
18. Memories (2.44)
19. Hello Thomas (4.39)
20. Tired Of Running (3.11)
21. What’s Next (2.56)


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