In the crowded post-apocalyptic teen dystopia marketplace, The Hunger Games is the undisputed champ. While they dropped a trailer for the latest installment, the series capping Mockingjay—Part 2, another similarly themed sequel, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, also unveiled a new look, showcasing what these movies bring to the table. And in case you forgot, that is action piled on action. Check it out for yourself.
While The Hunger Games definitely features action, it also relies heavily on story, character, and atmosphere, among other elements, to create an expansive, well-rendered world and heroine. Reading James Dashner’s novels that serve as the source material for The Maze Runner movies, I remember not thinking much of them from a story or character perspective, but I remarked that they would probably make kick ass movies. Judging by the first movie, and this new Scorch Trials trailer, director Wes Ball and company have delivered on that front.

It’s really the pace and tempo that drive these movies, and the big action scenes and continual forward motion help smooth over any narrative gaps or weaknesses in the story. The first film focuses on Thomas (Dylan O’Brien, Teen Wolf), a young man who wakes up in a place called the Glade with no idea how he got there. Surrounded by high walls and an ever-changing maze full of monsters called Grievers, the Glade is populated by other teens in a similar state, all trying to find a way out.

The story does itself a favor by being self-contained like this, allowing the film to focus on this place and these people without having to worry about the bigger world outside just yet. You’re already engaged and familiar by the time you get to The Scorch Trials, which breaks the setting wide open. Here you, and the characters, are exposed to the world beyond the Glade, and as you can see, it’s all kinds of messed up. There’s the nefarious organization/corporation WCKD, the landscape is a burned out wasteland, and there’s some kind of vicious virus that turns everyone into monsters to contend with.

From what we see in this trailer, The Scorch Trials is basically a long string of action-packed, harrowing scenes designed to put Thomas and his friends in danger. They battle infected people, tussle with Aiden Gillen from Game of Thrones, and trek across the desolate badlands where they encounter a group of resistance fighters. There are even adults this time around (there’s really one in the first movie) and female characters (there are only two in the first: one who is barely there, and one who is barely written). This looks to have all of the things that made The Maze Runner a much bigger hit than many people expected last year, as well as providing something new in the form of an expanding world.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials hits theaters September 18.

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