Having never read any of the books The Maze Runner films are based on probably has tainted my views of this franchise. I did not care for the first film and can’t even remember the second one, although I do remember seeing both films. So, what does that tell you about this franchise? It has been enormously popular with the younger adults and since I am not one of them, these films are probably lost on me. I am not the demographics for the films, but if they are done well, I will say so. The only thing I can claim from the first two is that they were competently put together but the stories were not of interest to me; predictable and uninteresting.
Having said that The Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the best one of the franchise. I don’t know if I would recommend it on its own, but a sincere effort has been made to make a good final installment of this franchise. In this last chapter, the film picks up with the group of rebels primarily led by Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) trying to find a cure for the zombiefying disease called The Flare and rescuing his friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from the Company. In part two of this franchise, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Thomas’s would-be girlfriend, turned on the group to go work for the Company. Will she return to the good guys? Was her betrayal true or a ruse? Do we even care? Kinda, I guess.
Frankly, I could not care less. Like I said, this franchise rests right above the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises in the quality of the films. At least, The Maze Runner films try a little harder to be good. Director Wes Ball has directed all three of these films and there is a sincere effort to be a good product. The problem with these films, for me, are the scripts. The writers seem to think that they have to dumb down the material because these are generated towards more of the teens and young adult audiences. I think most teens and young adults can understand this material just fine without all of the explanations. Then again, these are some of the same teens and young adults who snort condoms and ingest Tide Pods. The first film was so heavy on exposition that I grew tired of trying to make sense of it all. Thirdly, the second film was so devoid of exposition that nothing made sense. I have since heard that a lot of the material in the books didn’t even make it to the films. I guess that would explain the unevenness of these films.
With The Maze Runner: The Death Cure they have done their best writing, yet, though. I still had problems connecting to these characters but after a while the film either won me over or wore me down to where I just ran with what the filmmakers were selling. The acting is sufficient but, believe me, no one is taking home the Oscar for this film and I will say Dylan O’Brien seems to be so much smarter than the material he has been given here. He tries. I mean he REALLY tries and after a while I grew a bit more interested. There is a long sequence in which the rebels have to break into the Company’s main headquarters and it was at this point I really grew interested in the premise. It is slickly produced and directed. They did a great job of editing the whole sequence (which lasts about an hour) and made it exciting.
There are some other scenes which were okay but ripped off from other films. For example, the opening train heist sequence looks like it was a cross between Mad Max and Fast and Furious. Overall, however, The Maze Runner: The Death Cure has its moments and is not a total waste of time. Die-hard fans of the books and this film franchise will love this film a lot more than I did. It is made primarily for them, anyway, but that does not say you won’t come away with some enjoyment. With a run time of almost two and a half hours, the film feels a bit long in the tooth but finally they seem to have struck the right tone for this last film and it works. Maybe not well or as consistent as it should be, but it works.
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure – **1/2 out of 5
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure – Rated PG-13 for some language, violence, gore and scenes of peril
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure – Run time is 142 minutes
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure is now available on DVD, On Demand and pay subscription services. Check your local areas for availability and pricing.