It’s about time, y’all. Not gonna lie, I’m kind of excited for this. There’s quite a bit to talk about so let’s get to it.
Alright, so full disclaimer, I never read the books. I’ve read very few young-adult novels, but that’s a rant for another time. I have, however, seen the previous films. THE MAZE RUNNER (2014), I thought was really good. I enjoyed it very much, thought the action, special effects, and acting were great. Hell, I might even go so far as to say that I liked the first installment better than THE HUNGER GAMES (2012). I had a great many problems with the ending, so it’s definitely not the best of its genre, but it’s was still a surprisingly good movie. THE SCORCH TRIALS (2015) was… a step back. By no means a bad movie, but on the one hand, it’s less memorable than the first. I had to read my review on it to refresh myself and even then, I don’t remember half the crap that I wrote. Guess I need to actually watch it.
In retrospect, the final installment would have come out sooner, but star Dylan O’Brien infamously sustained a serious head injury that hospitalized him in 2016, effectively postponing the film’s production until he recovered. Eleven months later, he’s back in the saddle to a legion of fans wishing him well, congrats, and a great deal of happy thoughts his way, including myself. Dude’s a great actor, and seems to have a reputation for being a good guy. It always sucks when the good ones get the short end of the stick, but I guess that stick wasn’t short enough, as we now have the final film out. Suck it, life!
So on that note, it’s good to have you back, Dylan.
As this is the final installment, I won’t be holding back on spoilers regarding the previous films. So if you haven’t seen them and have an interest, read no further and come back when you have.
The story looks like it’s about Thomas and his band of Gladers are heading back to WCKD to bring the fight to them, get their friends back, all the while WCKD is on the verge of finding a cure to the virus that plagues the planet. I… really need to see the previous film again.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Dylan O’Brien (AMERICAN ASSASSIN  and DEEPWATER HORIZON ), Patricia Clarkson (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and upcoming films DELIRIUM  and OUT OF BLUE ), Ki Hong Lee (WISH UPON ), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKES  and LOVE ACTUALLY ), and Kaya Scodelario (PIRATES: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES , and the upcoming THE KING’S DAUGHTER ).
In support, we have Giancarlo Esposito (MONEY MONSTER , THE JUNGLE BOOK , and the upcoming THE LONG HOME ), Aidan Gillen (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD , SING STREET , and upcoming films BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY  and JAMES AND LUCIA ), Walton Goggins (THE HATEFUL EIGHT , AMERICAN ULTRA , and upcoming films TOMB RAIDER  and ANT-MAN AND THE WASP ), Jacob Lofland (FREE STATE OF JONES ), and Rosa Salazar (CHIPS , and upcoming films THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER  and ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Wes Ball, known for the other Maze Runner movies and short films. Penning the screenplay is T.S. Nowlin, known for PHOENIX FORGOTTEN (2017), and the upcoming PACIFIC RIM UPRISING (2018). Composing the score is John Paesano, known for THE STAR (2017), TV show DAREDEVIL (2015 – ongoing), video game MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA (2017), and the upcoming PACIFIC RIM UPRISING. The cinematographer is Gyula Pados, known for JUMANJI 2 (2017) and PREDATORS (2010). Finally, the co-editors are Paul Harb (THE EXPENDABLES 3 , THE EXPENDABLES , and the upcoming THE BOMBING ) and Dan Zimmerman (DARK TOWER ).
Overall, this could be a pretty awesome movie. The emotions have always been there when it’s needed, but now we just have to deal with the story stupidity that’s always managed to squeeze its way into the movies.
This is my honest opinion of: MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE
Set six months after THE SCORCH TRIALS. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and The Right Arm have been tirelessly tracking down Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and the others that were taken by WCKD and the traitorous Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). Successfully liberating a few, they failed to find Minho, WCKD’s only potential source for the cure to the Flare virus, and is taken to “The Final City,” the last remaining city of humanity still standing, surrounded by a fortified wall to keep the infected out. Finally learning of the location to the Last City, Thomas, the last of the Gladers, and the Right Arm set out to look for it, free Minho, and maybe put an end to WCKD’s reign.
I’m not gonna lie… I kinda love this movie. It’s by no means the best, it doesn’t really do anything new, but I was emotionally invested (I teared up at the end), I was entertained, and I wanted to see how this movie ended.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way. As I said, this isn’t a movie that hasn’t been done before. Post-apocalypse, corporations are bad, zombies, the list of clichés are probably too numerous to count. This probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing in of itself, but these are some of the more glaring issues that exist with the flick.
For one thing, the methods of how WCKD extracts the cure from the Immunes is either never made clear, or given the most bullshit of explanations. Watching the ending to the first film, it’s basically states that the mazes are an overly elaborate social experiment. Because the teens are immune to the virus, they needed to be tested and studied to understand what makes them so different. So using who knows what kind of resources, they build huge mazes loaded with traps and puzzles, and… what, somehow their escape would show something? We’re never shown what their survival means. What was the end goal of these maze experiments? We never truly know other than, “BECAUSE CURE!!!” As a result, WCKD just seems like they’re evil for the sake of being evil. The movie thinks they’re that great area of thinking, like the audience can understand their reasons as they have humanity’s best interests at heart, but when we don’t see their progression, when we don’t see the good they do, the result is something extremely hollow. But a plastic halo over a crazed murderer, he’s still a crazed murderer.
And ultimately, the method is stupid. How much of the world’s remaining resources does WCKD have? They seriously used it to create not one, but multiple of these insane mazes loaded with monsters and shit… just to study the brain? That’s… beyond retarded. Ultimately, the cure for the Flare is extracted from the blood, so why couldn’t they just, you know, take a vial of blood from the Immunes and run tests. Why did it take these huge-ass mazes to get the cure?! None of it makes any sense by the end of the series.
Finally, and this is pretty universal with YA adaptations, it gets pretty silly with how the kids fit into the big picture. Like, one kid becomes a hardened enforcer for the Rebellion. Where the hell are the adults who share a similar mindset as the kids? These kids are leading covert assaults, break outs, but the adults are too busy being scared to fight, or blowing themselves up. Only the kids are somehow smart enough to figure out other ways. I never truly bought that.
Also, the Flare virus is too slowly revealed in its effects. Here’s what I mean. In this trilogy, it took until the third movie for the audience to understand exactly what the Flare does. I mean, we already know that it turns people into zombies. Okay, that’s pretty generic though. How are audiences supposed to get into something they’ve seen a million times and in better movies? Sure, we see Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) get infected and we’ve certainly had time to get to know and attached to him as a character, but ultimately he’s the only emotional connection we have to the Flare’s devastation. We don’t even know about it until the end of the first movie and we get generic zombies in the second film. Even with Newt’s life on the line, it’s just not enough for audiences to care.
So that seems like a pretty well-rounded reason to believe this movie is bad, right? Well, not that I’d necessarily argue anyone who believed that, but the saving grace for me has always been the characters and the actors portraying them.
Because I think O’Brien is such a great actor, I whole-heartedly believe the conviction in every line he delivers. We know he’s desperate to protect everyone and keep them alive. We know the burden of his past actions before his amnesia and how much they weigh on his mind. When he’s defeated, we see that defeat in his eyes. Thomas may not have a whole lot of dimension to his character, but O’Brien sells the role so well that I can’t help but get drawn in and invested. I want him to take down WCKD. I want him to save Minho. I care whether or not he saves the day. The same easily goes for the supporting cast. I enjoy the performances of Scodelario, Brodie-Sangster, and Lee. Unfortunately, because the methods and blanket statement of “finding a cure” from the villains, the villain characters don’t get the same love, despite being a relative fan of some. Still, even if the actors aren’t friends in real life, the camaraderie really shines, and that’s what really sells the movie for me.
The action is pretty good as well, I enjoy the visuals, the emotional moments are strong, the drama comes through, so there was just enough for me to say that it was worth it for me. Having said all that, I acknowledge that this movie isn’t going to please anyone who isn’t already hooked. If the fans took a good step back and thought about these movies as a whole, then they’d see the blinding problems to the point where it would hurt your brain. Still, the movie made me cry at the end, so I think the movie struck the right chords for me. As for everyone else, eh, probably not so much outside of the fans. So is it a recommendation? Ehhh, viewer beware. I may enjoy the film just fine, but I don’t speak for the masses. This maze is senseless at times, and most won’t get far, but here I am getting through it and liking it.
My honest rating for MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE: a strong 3/5
PS: Curious if the books are any better? Then read them from the beginning for comparing and contrasting! Head on over to Amazon and get your copy of the books by James Dashner!