For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Bestselling/Popular Novel Adaptations, here’s a review of Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018) by SG of Rhyme and Reason
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Richard of Kirkham A Movie A Day and it is Swashbuckler Films
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Aug by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Try to think out of the box! Great choice Richard!
Let’s see what SG thought of this movie:
And we run for our lives.
And we run to survive.
Lows follow highs,
And our life’s a treadmill.
And we run faster still.
We’ll find in the long run,
As far as we’ve raced,
Each danger remains one
That needs to be faced.
For breakthroughs are not done
By just being chased.
MPAA rating: PG-13
It’s nice when a franchise knows when to end. It’s become common now for Hollywood to squeeze out an extra movie for the sake of the box office, and Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games got away with it pretty easily. The Divergent series wasn’t so lucky and still awaits its delayed conclusion, but The Maze Runner franchise started out as a trilogy and now ends as a trilogy, as it should be. While I haven’t read the books myself, I’ve enjoyed these movies and am glad they didn’t try to squeeze out an unnecessary fourth one for the sake of money.
As the third film in the series, The Death Cure is naturally meant for those who have seen the first two and will leave anyone else lost. After the betrayal of Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) at the end of The Scorch Trials, Thomas (Dylan O’Brian) and his collection of maze survivors and rebel allies now intend to rescue his captured friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from WCKD, which is easier said than done. Like the first two films, there are difficult moral questions about the value of life amid death and disaster, but the movie shines most in its energetic action set pieces, which still include a lot of running and manage to liven up the film’s slightly excessive length (142 minutes).
The first Maze Runner is still the best because of its unique concept (amnesiacs trapped in a maze) and its fast-paced execution, full of mystery and intrigue that kept the mind guessing. Since then, each successive movie has contributed extra plot elements that have widened its scope for good and bad, providing some answers but causing its originality to suffer. The Scorch Trials revealed a zombie apocalypse at the root of the world’s collapse, while The Death Cure adds in class warfare and explosive social upheaval, though most of it remains background danger. It’s still an entertaining mixture of the new and the overly familiar, such as a rescue scene toward the end that is straight out of Aliens but is then followed by something unexpected.
I think the biggest weakness of the series is motivation. It’s still not entirely clear why the maze was necessary (I guess adrenaline is supposed to increase the potency of the disease’s cure?), and individual motivations are also left fuzzy. One character is specifically asked why he’s helping Thomas and doesn’t offer much clarity. Another character says he won’t help but then later shows up with a change of heart. Likewise, a villain betrayal is committed with little context as to why. Sometimes this kind of uncertainty is effective, as with Teresa’s conflicted loyalties on who she ought to be helping or Thomas’s denunciation of WCKD being challenged, but other times it’s a bit too enigmatic.
Nevertheless, The Death Cure manages to end the series well, even if the closure of the bittersweet denouement only applies on a small scale rather than the larger one the series kept building. The story still pulls out some surprises for unspoiled viewers, and the likable performances and cool visuals are solid throughout. There are quite a few deaths, but one is particularly heartbreaking, and to me, a lot of the series’ success hinges on the weight that scene carries, proving this isn’t quite as disposable as other young-adult franchises. The Maze Runner series started off strong with its first installment, and even if it’s lost some steam along the way, it never squandered its considerable potential. As dystopian adaptations go, it can’t match The Hunger Games in my book, but it ran its course to the end better than most.
Best line: (said to Thomas) “If I could do it all over again, I would. And I wouldn’t change a thing. My hope for you: when you’re looking back years from now, you’ll be able to say the same.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2018 S.G. Liput
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