The three series, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner, all have a very similar history. Each of the books were written at roughly the same time and each of them got their first film adaptation within two years of each other. And while you can argue that one of the stories is more unique than the other, there’s absolutely no question that they’ve all pretty much wrapped up the same way – well, the Divergent series would have wrapped up the same way, if the movies hadn’t been halted because they were just so bad. With The Death Cure, we get the Mockingjay of the Maze Runner series. The once-mistreated teenagers are now young adults, revolting against the evil organization that caused all their pain. While this is more a critique of the books (which isn’t my job), it is disappointing to see this story conclude almost the exact same way.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the third and final chapter in the Maze Runner trilogy. The film picks up with Thomas, Brenda, Newt, Frypan, Vince, and Jorge working together to free Minho, who had been captured by the evil organization WCKD (still can’t get over that name). After an initial failed attempt to free him, they discover Minho has been taken to WCKD’s headquarters in The City, where Ava Paige, Janson, and Teresa begin performing tests on him to try to discover a cure to The Flare, a virus that turns everyone into Cranks (AKA zombies). Thomas and friends team up with a group of rebels to break into The City, free Minho, and take down WCKD.
The most refreshing thing about the first Maze Runner film was that while the plot was largely similar to The Hunger Games, there were several elements that were truly new. The art direction in the creation of the Maze was clever and visually impressive. And the Lord of the Flies-esque subplot was intriguing and provided a lot of potential for character development. Unfortunately, with the second film, The Scorch Trials, elements of the cleverness were lost as creative art direction was exchanged for uncreative and overexaggerated zombies. With this third film, not only are we lacking any creative art direction are clever character development, but every single scene is something we’ve seen before and every single character has been reduced to a pathetic singularity.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure would be a lot easier to review as a book critic than as a movie critic because the biggest problem this film has is its story. By this stage of the trilogy, author James Dashner gives us very little that we haven’t seen before. And to be perfectly honest, the place where we’ve seen it before was in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. The central plot, the conflicted romance, the fate of favorite characters – everything, and I mean everything in this story is not only predictable, but totally cringeworthy when it actually plays out. But technically I’m a movie critic, not a book critic, so this entire paragraph has been me stepping out of line.
That being said, the biggest problem with Maze Runner: The Death Cure follows along the same lines. The film is directed by Wes Ball, a director with exactly three feature films to his name – The Maze Runner, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and Maze Runner: The Death Cure. It’s apparent from interviews and in his directing that Wes Ball is a huge fan of the series, which is appropriate for a director, but only to a certain extent. The issue here is that Ball is such a big fan, that in his directing he falls victim to every cliché, every predictable element, and every flaw that the story itself is guilty of. The result is that this cinematic adaptation adds nothing to an already underwhelming story. Every action scene, every shootout, every fistfight – they’re exactly what you expect, never making you say “wow,” and never making you feel entertained.
I really wish The Death Cure had been a great movie, because I really wanted Maze Runner to be a great franchise. When the first batch of these young-adult, dystopian films came out – The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner – it was Maze Runner that I was most excited about, because I felt it had the most potential. Unfortunately, that potential was squandered, and the result is an exceedingly average series, with a painfully disappointing finale.
I give Maze Runner: The Death Cure a 6.3/10