While The Hunger Games obviously rules the young adult dystopia landscape, 2014 saw a surprising runner up: The Maze Runner. Also based on a best-selling series of YA novels, these ones by James Dashner, it’s a relatively low-budget affair that managed to gather unexpectedly good reviews and earn more money overall than Hunger Games heir apparent Divergent. 20th Century Fox wasted no time in green lighting the sequel, The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, which drops later this year, and now we’ve got our first look at the teen-centric adventure.
Using Entertainment Weekly and People to disseminate, the studio has unveiled a handful of new stills from the upcoming film, and they definitely play up the action angle. Reading the book, I didn’t think much of it, but it was one of those instances where you could easily envision the translation from page to screen resulting in a fun, adventurous movie, which is certainly the case here.
In Scorch Trials, after escaping the labyrinthine prison maze, the core group of young men, fronted by Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), is forced to undergo another hellacious test. This time they’re forced to cross a desolate wasteland known as “the Scorch,” which sounds unpleasant. While the first film is populated almost exclusively by young men—only the woefully underwritten Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) represents her gender (and that one old lady at the end)—there is definitely a stronger female presence in the sequel. Thomas’ group encounters another crew, led by Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones), who are like their gender-swapped equivalents, having escaped from their own prison.
In general, Scorch Trials opens up the world quite a bit. Not only has Emmanuel joined the fun, but her fellow GoT star Aiden Gillan, Lily Taylor, and Giancarlo Esposito have all also been added to the cast.
Things are not getting any easier for Thomas and company, however, as you can clearly see in these pictures. Teens hanging upside down by their ankles in some kind of post-apocalyptic dungeon never bodes well for smooth sailing, does it?
Then again, neither does seeing Thomas with a machine gun and a startled expression on his face. Joining him in this image are his fellow escapees from the Glade: Teresa, Newt (another GoT alum, Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and Minho (Ki Hong Lee).
Director Wes Ball and writer T.S. Nowlin are also back for The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, which is set to hit theaters September 18, 2015.