Maze Runner: The Death Cure Review

The dystopian teen genre died on its arse didn’t it? It was the biggest thing in the world when The Hunger Games was dominating book stores and box offices but when that series finished, it took the rest of the genre with it. The Divergent series tried to do the trick where they split the last book into two movies and the first part did so badly that they cancelled the second one and it might now end up on TV. That’s laughable. There were a few others that tried to start, I remember something with Chloe Grace Moretz flopping, but they all failed. And now the genre is about to end with the release of Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Is it a good ending to this genre?

The remaining Gladers continue to live the apocalyptic land that is the Scorch, trying to find others that are immune to the Flare virus. However they are still unable to find their friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee, Wish Upon) who is heading to the Last City. Determined to find him, the remaining Gladers head to the Last City.

It’s been two years since the last Maze Runner movie with it being delayed as the filming of the movie put lead star Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf) in the hospital. No seriously that happened and the movie had to wait a year to start filming again. That means the movie should change as well. The Maze Runner series isn’t very memorable but it has a lot of lore and even its own slang that you need to understand. But unless you go back to watch those movies, you are going to be lost for a while. The movie does nothing to catch you up with what is happening in its world and you may have to go check out a Wiki to see what’s going on. Some series can get away with not catching you up too much, Harry Potter was famously impenetrable if you weren’t a fan, but The Maze Runner is not a ultra famous franchise with daily discussions of what is going to happen. This is a forgettable series that exists because of a trend. It needs to work harder to catch us up.

The movie does start well though with a fairly exciting sequence with the Gladers doing a heist on a train to free some other teenagers that are immune to the Flare virus. The action is actually much better this time around than it ever has been in the series. Having read my review of The Scorch Trials again, god help me if I actually remember seeing it, so much of the action takes place in dark ruins and has the dreaded shakycam so you can’t actually see what is going on. This time while the movie does have action scenes at night, they are much better lit and the director Wes Ball has learned that keeping the camera steady so we can see the action is better than the faux-excitement created by shakycam. These action scenes aren’t astounding but they are still pretty fun to watch.

I am not a massive Maze Runner fan, and I’m guessing that some must excuse considering the success of the books and the movies, but it does feel that this is a good conclusion to the series for the characters. Pretty much every character from all the movies appear, even if you completely forgot they existed, and all the dangling plot threads are resolved from why they were in the maze and how they might live in this apoocalyptic world. Yes, this will mean nothing to someone who has never seen the movies before but then again, this movie is not made for them. This is made for the fans this series has and everything does at least for me, someone who has watched them all but not particularly cared for it, end satisifyingly.

But a fault with the series has always been the lead, Dylan O’Brien. This feels cruel because he went through a lot to complete this movie but the man is a hunk of wood. He isn’t given that much to play with, why is the lead in these sort of movies always the least developed character, but surely he could at least have some charisma. He is the character you care the least about because all he gets to do is look solemn and maybe be a hero from time to time. He’s stern, even when he’s in scenes where he has to care about fellow Glader Teresa (Kaya Scodelario, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) he looks solemn. Yes Dylan can smoulder and I imagine many a teen girl has a poster of him up on his wall but I don’t see a great actor in him just yet.

The supporting cast does do some decent work to make sure the characters aren’t all a bore. Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones) is Janson, the man behind the mysterious company that set up the maze to try and find a cure to the Scorch. I still don’t get that but whatever, they wanted a lot of kids in a maze we have to go with it. And as you’ll know from Game of Thrones, Gillen is born to a conniving villain. You just never trust him and he makes the most of every scene. I also quite like Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually) as Newt, one of the Gladers. Mostly because he actually smiles and has a character which is a change of pace.

I’m glad that Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the end of the dystopia trend we had for a while and I’m glad this series actually had a finale. But it’s still very forgettable. I’m sure the fans will find something to enjoy in this movie, it has far less glaring flaws than The Scorch Trials had, but it still doesn’t hit the high mark that the surprisingly good original hit. Honestly, it’s nothing special but if you’ve seen the series up to now, you might as well finish it off because it’s not that bad.



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A Guy Who Talks About Movies

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.