Wes Ball Talks The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

'I saw it as the Empire Strikes Back of the series...'


You likely saw the exclusive new pictures we premiered from The Maze Runner sequel Scorch Trials a couple of days ago. We’ve also had a chance to talk to returning director Wes Ball about what we can expect from the new adventures of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Newt (Thomas Brodie Sangster) and the rest.

“I think that they're out of the frying pan into the fire, and their adventures are just beginning,” says Ball when we ask what fans can expect from the follow-up, which plunges our heroes from the dangers of the maze into the harsh reality of the world as it is in the book. “It's definitely a cool world, kind of ravaged by the sun, so everything's kind of burned and that's why it's called The Scorch. But it's also full of very hostile people, including creatures they have to meet up and deal with. What was kind of appealing to me was that it didn't have to be a rehash of the first film, we got to go into a completely different look, a different kind of environment, and different threats altogether, but to still tell the story of these characters we fell in love with from the first movie.”

While Ball admits it was easier to hit the ground running this time with a familiar cast, he still found big challenges broadening the canvas. “Obviously certain parts of it were easier this time, which was fun. But in terms of scope, it's huge. I saw it as the Empire Strikes Back of this three- movie series and there are a ton of locations and a lot of action that happens, and it's that middle instalment of that three story arc, especially the way it starts, because we're thrown into the action and right where the last one left off with these kids in a helicopter and they go off to the next thing in a dramatic way. It's exciting to just jump into this thing.”

Naturally, this being an adaptation there will – as with the first film – be changes from the book. And Ball says that lots of elements within the story are being juggled between all the books. “We didn't approach this as a straight adaptation of the second book, we approached it more as using the same ingredients but using slightly different recipe. So things from the first book end up in the second movie and there are things in the second book we're saving for a third movie.”

Talking of the third film – which screenwriter T.S. Nowlin is now aboard to adapt from James Dashner’s The Death Cure – might it see Ball continue to buck the current trend of YA adaptation directors who handle the first film, then pull the eject cord? “We'll see. I don’t want to say anything yet! I wasn't planning on making the second movie right away, but I couldn't deny wanting to work with this cast again and keep making the story. I'll be involved forever, and feel like I should be a custodian, whether I direct the next one or not."

The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials lands in the UK on September 18.