2018, Action Movies, Angry Teenagers, Based on a bestselling book, Based on a Book Series, Contagion, Dystopian Futures, Evil Corporations, Evil Doctors!, Just Plain Bad, LL Soares Reviews, Science Fiction, Scientific Experiments, Sequels, The Future, Torture, Zombies 0
MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (2018)
Review by LL Soares
(WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS)
You get your hopes up, and it almost never turns out good. When I saw THE MAZE RUNNER (2014), I wasn’t familiar with the book it was based on, and I was taken by surprise. It was a very cool story, and kept me firmly strapped to my seat until the end. Based on a popular YA novel and pretty original, I became a fan of the movie long before the final credits ran. But then, something really bad happened. Turns out it was part of a trilogy, and there were two more movies on the way. At first, happy to sit down and watch more, I got MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS (2015), and my enthusiasm soon waned, the fun new flavors turned bitter then bland.
This happens a lot with movies based on famous trilogies – too often.
MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (2018), the third film in the series, unfortunately, doesn’t get the franchise back on track.
Let’s do a quick recap.
In the first movie THE MAZE RUNNER, the lead character, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) rises up on an elevated platform in a place called The Glade. He has had most of his memory erased, and finds a group of other boys there. There’s also a huge maze. Everyone who’s tried to get through the maze has died at the hands (or, more precisely, metallic legs) of creatures called Grievers that are part living and part machine, and look sort of like giant spiders. The movie takes you through various twists and turns until we find out the whole thing is a test in a dystopian future, where most people have died. I thought the whole concept was pretty cool.
In THE MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS, Thomas and his friends find themselves in the world outside the Maze, where it turns out they’re guinea pigs for the scientists for a corporation called W.C.K.D. (W.I.C.K.E.D. in the books). They’re being tested and experimented on because a virus has infected most of the human race, turning them into violent zombies. Thomas and the gang are immune to the virus, and W.C.K.D. wants to use them for a cure. But the kids escape and join rebel forces who fight against W.C.K.D.
I have to admit, after the originality of the first movie, I was incredibly disappointed when it all turned out to be yet another zombie apocalypse. (YAWN)
In the new movie, things start out hopeful. There’s a big action sequence where Thomas and his buddies attack a train in order to free some of the kids who have been captured. However, because his buddy Minho (Ki Hong Lee) isn’t one of them, Thomas can’t leave with everyone else in a recovered ocean liner to get away from W.C.K.D. Instead, he makes plans to get into a walled city that is actually W.C.K.D. headquarters, because he can’t leave without his bud Minho. But his other buddies won’t let him go it alone, so British kid Newt (Thomas Brodie-Singer, also in GAME OF THRONES, and the Netflix series GODLESS), African-American Frypan (Dexter Darden), Brenda (Rosa Salazar, also on the show MAN SEEKING WOMAN, and she has the lead role in the upcoming ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL, 2018) who’s sweet on Thomas, and rebel adult Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito, Gus Fring from BREAKING BAD) go along for the ride. Along the way they meet up with more rebels, including Gally (Will Pouter, from WE’RE THE MILLERS, 2013, and THE REVENANT, 2015), who was in the first movie and was supposed to be dead, and the rebel leader Lawrence (the great Walton Goggins, in everything from TV series like THE SHIELD, 2002 – 2008, JUSTIFIED, 2010 – 2015, and VICE PRINCIPALS, 2016 – 2017, and movies like DJANGO UNCHAINED, 2012, and THE HATEFUL EIGHT, 2015, but almost unrecognizable here with a face eaten away by rot, including the lack of a nose – I have to admit, his makeup is pretty cool, but he has very little screentime).
The rebels get Thomas and his friends into the city, where Thomas comes face to face with Dr. Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson, also in THE STATION AGENT, 2003, and the Netflix series HOUSE OF CARDS), the scientist who’s in charge of the whole guinea pig thing, and her protégé and Thomas’s former love interest, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario, also in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, 2017), and Paige’s murderous henchman (Aiden Gillen, “Little Finger” from GAME OF THRONES), who we all met in one or both of the previous movies. And while I seem to know a lot of these character’s names, I didn’t remember all of them while I was watching this movie because it had been three years since the last installment, and I didn’t care enough to refresh myself.
It all becomes a matter of getting Minho and other captive kids out, without getting killed, and after a while, I have to admit, I just stopped caring. The adrenaline of the first scene lasts a little bit, then fades, and then the rest of the movie, involving the battle with W.C.K.D. and the occasional threat of disfigured, aggressive zombies, almost lulled me to sleep. And it became much more of a chore to watch this movie than anything close to entertainment.
THE DEATH CURE is directed by Wes Ball, who also directed the previous two MAZE RUNNER movies, and written by T.S. Nowlin, who also wrote the screenplays for the previous two movies, based on the book series by James Dashner. (Double YAWN)
So, let’s step back and look at the series as a whole. The first movie is worth seeing, but if you do go back and check it out, stop at the first one. The second one is a waste of time. The third one, after a good start, becomes another waste of time. Once the maze is out of the picture (at the end of movie #1), the entire premise is boring and derivative, and while the acting on the whole is okay, it wasn’t enough to keep me engaged in the story.
And the end of THE DEATH CURE seemed to go on and on, and get sappier and sappier. Some characters die (it’s supposed to be tragic, I guess, but I felt relief), some move on, and there’s a big rock with a bunch of names carved in it of people we lost along the way.
For me, I’m just grateful the trilogy is over. And if they do somehow revive it with another movie, I won’t be going to see it. So, bye-bye world of THE MAZE RUNNER. You squandered any potential you had after the first movie and became just another lame YA movie series set in yet another lame dystopian, zombie-infested future.
I give MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE a rating of one knife, mostly due to the first scene. But frankly, you can leave after that, or take a nap, and you won’t miss anything good.
All this yawning has tired me out. I’m going to go take a nap now.
© Copyright 2018 by LL Soares
LL Soares gives MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE~ one knife.