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Soundtrack review: The maze runner – The Scorch Trials (John Paesano – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The maze runner – The Scorch Trials (John Paesano – 2015)


This time last year I was very happy to discover and exciting composer I knew nothing about: John Paesano. His excellent score for “The maze runner” stuck with me and his subsequent efforts for “When the game stands tall” or “Daredevil” only cemented his status as one of the best composers of the past year. It’s time now for “The Scorch Trials”, the second part of the trilogy, in which the main characters search for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and uncover its shocking plans for them all.

I remember the first score really got to me with bombastic action and emotional content. “The Scorch trials” seems to be focusing on tension during the first few cues. It’s the kind of thick and rich tension that makes me feel like I’m part of the story. It’s not generic or boring; I feel invested in what happens and I want to know where the music goes from here. John Paesano actually makes this feel like a sequel because the sound of “The Scorch trials” somehow feels like the middle of a musical story to me. He doesn’t introduce new themes yet, he just lets the listener ease into the score.

But too much of this can become hurtful to the listening experience. By the time “The mall” ends the score I starting to lose me a bit. Still, this is John Paesano we’re talking about and he soon finds his rhythm. An emotional moment gets my attention first, the moody piano tune in “Goodbye”. This is the emotion I’ve been missing so far. A bit of nostalgia warms me up because I hear echoes of RCP dark electronic mood.

The action is yet to come but I can’t complain. If it’s good and it’s atmospheric I am in, regardless of the story. If it’s dark, even better. And “The Scorch trials” is dripping electronic darkness as if it was applying a coat of thick pitch on the world around us. The music is complex and challenging. It might not be loud and it might not be explosive but it’s intelligent and gripping. Even in the more silent moments I feel something coming up and I need to feel someone close.

Even if there are no memorable separate themes or cues, “The maze runner – The Scorch trials” works as a whole. The subtle and almost addictive motifs that John Paesano put together made me get wonderfully lost in the fabric of this score and when I got out I had a very comfortable coat which fit me surprisingly well. I discovered a dark and emotional score that hit a familiar chord inside me. I can’t wait for the culmination of the trilogy next year.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 76

Album excellence: 51%


The Scorch



Uninvited Guest

Leaning Tower Of Scorch


The Source

The Cure

Chat With Brenda

A Home For Us


Tired Of Running

What’s Next


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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