Maze Runner: The Death Cure - 2018
Director(s): Wes Ball
Writer(s): T.S. Nowlin (screenplay) / James Dashner (novel)
Cinematography by: Gyula Pados
Editor(s): Paul Harb and Dan Zimmerman
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen and Giancarlo Esposito
Synopsis: Thomas goes on a mission to save his friends from the organization that has controlled their lives from the beginning.
This is the third and final installment of the “Maze” series that started back in 2014, around the same time the YA novel adaptations bubble was forming. Around this time, movies came and went without a whisper, like Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments, Divergent and The 5th Wave. While I wouldn’t lump Maze in that lot, they don’t fall in the “top tier” of YA adaptations of Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games (this tier is a mix of quality and fandom). So, Maze falls somewhere in between. They aren’t great, but they aren’t bad. I haven’t walked away from one completely regretting the time I invested, but I wouldn’t recommend someone to go see them. So, walking in to the last installment I knew what I was getting and there was absolutely no deviation from my expectations.
Let’s talk about it.
Quick background on the series: In the first one we see our hero Thomas, played by Dylan O’Brien, dropped into a mysterious place that has giant maze filled with monsters and death traps. He doesn’t have his memory but by the end he remembers everything and helps the rest of the trapped kids escape. In the second one they see the destruction the solar flare has done to the world. It’s also a virus that has destroyed the human population… it’s another zombie movie. Double cross happens and his friends are kidnaped by the evil organization called World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department, or WCKD for short. Get it? WCKD? Ok. Now Thomas is a full fleshed leader trying to rescue his friends and the rest of the immune population so they can live outside of WCKD grasp.
Where this third movie gets me is the action. I can’t fault the action in this movie. Is well choreographed, shot competently and it’s entertaining to watch. This third installment is jammed packed with action. The movie starts off with what we see in the trailer - a rescue mission on board of a train. The movie closes with a huge battle scene, like most of these YA novels do. We have absolutely seen this before and there are lines uttered that I could trace back to a better action movie, but I was enjoying the ride, as familiar as it was. Dylan O’Brien is a competent actor that sells his shooting, running and fighting very well and the movie benefits from it.
Like I said above, this is a familiar road and that’s one of the biggest faults these movies have. There is not a single moment in here that, if I see them in another movie, I will think they ripped off the Maze franchise. It’s jammed packed with tropes that you see coming a mile away. The friend sacrifice, trying to go on the mission alone only to be stopped and joined by your friends, the rescue coming as soon as the hero accepts defeat, infiltrating the headquarters using the guards uniform and the list goes on and on. Even lines that we have heard countless times, like the “try not to stare” when they are going to meet a new character. When you have a movie that is just recreating or lifting inspiration constantly your mind will go to the ones that did it first or better and you will completely forget that you saw this movie in the first place. That’s my biggest critique of the franchise - it’s entertaining but forgettable.
Quick note: the "last city" is a rip-off of Blade Runner and it was a bit annoying.
The acting is fine, but I did notice that the actors made a “character choice” and then just squeezed it to the very end. Patricia Clarkson always lifts her right eyebrow during important monologues. Aidan Gillen always smirks during his evil plotting (in GoT he does the same). Thomas Brodie-Sangster always has the sun in his left eye, so he is always squinting and turning his head towards his shoulders. Ki Hong Lee is always looking through his eyebrows. But, the one that sticks out like a sore thumb is Giancarlo Esposito and his over use of “hermano” (brother in Spanish). Look, I’m Puerto Rican and my first language is Spanish. I live in the States and I’m speaking English 98% of my day. I never sprinkle in a random word of Spanish just to make sure the audience… I mean the people around me, don’t forget I’m the token Latino of the movie… I mean company. I know all that I have mentioned so far sound like “me problems” and they very well could be, but it was a pattern I saw and I couldn’t un-see it.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is an ok movie. The third act is a bit of a mess and the character motivations go out the window, but I really didn’t care enough to break it down in this review. I guess that’s the phrase that encapsulates my feelings towards this movie… I didn’t care. The movie started and ended. I was entertained. Tomorrow after I post this review I’ll probably never think of this movie again. The sequences and the lines will meld with the countless times I have seen them done before and their better counterparts will win out in my head. If you are looking for mindless entertainment and a movie that is done well, go see it. If you are looking for something original and with depth I would completely skip it. Latino trope of one Spanish word in a sentence is why I love movies.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is currently playing in theater. If you are a fan of the series go watch it. If you aren’t wait for it to hit Netflix or Hulu.
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