Film Review – Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)
Following two commercially successful Maze Runner films, the third and final installment in the franchise, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, is finally out in theaters. Starring rising talents in the industry, Fox worked tirelessly to release this long-delayed film before all of the actors aged out of their YA roles. The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Wes Ball
Written By: T.S. Nowlin
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Sangster, Rosa Salazar, Walton Goggins, Aiden Gillen, and Patricia Clarkson
After many journeys together, Thomas (O’Brien) and the rest of the Gladers must attempt their most dangerous mission yet. To save the rest of their friends, they must break into the Last City, a WCKD-controlled maze of a city that is heavily guarded and armed. However, WCKD still has plans for Thomas and the rest of those that are immune to The Flare, leading Janson (Gillen) and the rest of the WCKD forces to track them down before the entire world collapses in on itself.
While it’s often not a good sign of the film’s quality to see a finale to a blockbuster franchise open in January, Maze Runner: The Death Cure came to its current release date for an entirely different reason.
At the start of production, Fox slated Maze Runner: The Death Cure to release on February 17th, 2017. Principal photography began almost an entire year earlier on March 14th, 2016. Unfortunately, Dylan O’Brien was seriously injured on set four days later, putting him in the hospital. O’Brien suffered a head injury that was actually life-threatening at one point, causing production to shut down altogether. O’Brien was in a critical state for quite some time, pushing the restart of filming all the way back to March 6th, 2017.
Thankfully, Dylan O’Brien made a full recovery with the help of Fox’s patience in the entire matter. Once production started again, it finished without a hitch. In fact, O’Brien gave his blessing to director Wes Ball to actually use the footage leading up to O’Brien’s accident in the film. The shot itself was featured prominently in the promotional material for the film (the long, sweeping shot where O’Brien attaches a clasp to a train). Now, fans of the franchise can finally enjoy The Death Cure and finish off one of the more successful YA adaptations.
Wes Ball Shows that He Has Serious Talent Once Again
In the future, any film fan should be excited for a film that Wes Ball directs. He takes a middling budget and makes the entire landscape of the film look breathtaking, blending practical and CGI elements with the help of the rest of his crew. The Death Cure looks like it has a $250 million budget, but it only has a $62 million budget. The rubble mixed with the heightened technology makes for an aesthetically pleasing film for the entirety of its 142 runtime (more on that later).
Wes Ball also directs the action with a serious amount of flair. The Death Cure starts out with a bang as an extended train sequence immediately provides a visceral impact that a movie of this magnitude needs. However, the true brilliance of his skills lie in the smaller details. There’s little moves in the choreography that make you think, “have I seen this before?” For a PG-13 film, the action is pretty intense, highlighted by a chokehold created by someone using a person’s shirt collar against him.
Wes Ball has paid his dues with the Maze Runner franchise. Now, he should get close to carte blanche with his next project that is sure to become another well-produced adventure.
Dylan O’Brien Leads Maze Runner: The Death Cure with a Solid Performance
The character of Thomas hasn’t exactly been the most fascinating over the course of this trilogy, but Dylan O’Brien has always added a little glimmer to that character that made him likable. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes a bona fide star (you heard it here first!).
You can tell why O’Brien hurt himself during the making of this movie. His performance is very physical as he jumps from platform to platform — forcing his body to move as quickly as possible.
When he acts injured in the film, you definitely feel it as an audience member. He puts all his effort into appearing broken that you eventually give in and root for him.
Although the plot of Maze Runner: The Death Cure isn’t perfect, there’s a connection to O’Brien that is constantly present. He’s noble and respected by his peers, creating something out of nothing with his character. Most actors can’t elevate weak writing for their character into a compelling onscreen presence — but O’Brien is firmly among the group of actors that improves a movie just by being a part of it in some capacity.
The Entire Story Feels Unnecessary (Not to Mention Bloated as Well)
The Death Cure has an interesting idea at its core — who are the right people to save? There are other nice ideas as well for adults coming into their own that could have resonated nicely. Sadly, The Death Cure loses its way.
In most cases, it’s not enough to say that a film was just too long. But, this film was just too long. It’s a very simple story to tell, but the plot is stretched thin by some odd choices that completely retrace their steps. Characters have to break into places in order to eventually breakout but then must break back in and start an entirely new rescue and escape process. These actions take quite awhile to unfold, forcing the movie to screech to a halt.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure repeats itself to a nauseating degree, making the length become a serious issue as the film presses on into its third act. In this repetition, no new ground is covered — it’s the same perilous situations with the same thematic elements as play. This film is a prime example of bloated filmmaking. It simply did not need 142 minutes to tell this story.
As you sink lower into your chair and start to fight back some yawns, the emotional core of the movie falls numb. By the end, you’ll feel unbelievably exhausted as there wasn’t enough personality for the film to carry you through its issues. With a concise script, The Death Cure would have become a serious recommendation. Its production design and action are too good to cast aside. But, as currently constructed, Maze Runner: The Death Cure won’t advance pass being claimed as a decent cable watch.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is slickly produced and well-acted, but its issues are deeply tied to the rest of the franchise. In the end, the story of The Death Cure doesn’t do much to excite the casual moviegoing fan. With its bloated runtime, the third movie in the Maze Runner franchise overstays its welcome long before the end credits fall over the screen. The entire endeavor feels a bit unnecessary, retracing its own steps through a story that is just too thin for a full recommendation.
Fans of the franchise will feel some sense of satisfaction, but everyone else need not apply.
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