It’s been four years since 20th Century Fox launched the Maze Runner series and over the course of that time, a few other franchises have ended but not without leaving a bad taste in the fans’ mouths due to studio greed resulting in stretching the final chapter out to two movies, with the first of the two usually nothing but padding. The Divergent series isn’t even getting its “Part 2” finale because the first part sucked, hard.
So the studio seemed to have learned a lesson and mercifully contained the final Maze Runner film to a single film-going experience. And they made the right decision. If you’ve not been following the series, binge watch the first two because you will need to know who’s who and what’s going on. Briefly, there is a plague that has basically wiped out humanity and a few of the uninfected are trying to find a cure by containing and testing a group of young men who appear to be immune. In the first film, the young men (who really have no memory of their pasts) are held in a location known as The Glade which is surrounded by a large, ever-changing maze. A new arrival by the name of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) begins to remember who he is (he was part of the contingent looking for a cure) and attempts to find a way out of the maze. Lone female Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) – who worked with Thomas and is the last person places in The Glade – may have ulterior motives. Thomas and a small group do find their way out at the end but find a lab where everyone is dead and a vast wasteland outside.
In the second film, there is no maze (which is probably why the on screen title of the movie is simply The Scorch Trials) and Thomas and his friends learn that not everyone at that lab was dead. It was all a ruse and the head of the program, Ava (Patricia Clarkson), is still attempting to find a cure but the success she hopes for is dimming. With the assistance of Janson (Aiden Gillen) and Teresa, they attempt to round of the maze escapees and by the end, they have Minho (Ki Hong Lee) who they believe is The One.
Cut to The Death Cure. Minho is being experimented on, and Thomas and his friends, including the new ones he made in the second film (Jorge and Brenda), now have to find a way into the only city left of the planet and that one is surrounded by large walls to keep the infected out. The film opens with a spectacular action scene involving a daring rescue from a moving train and it never lets up from there. The story, which I don’t want to divulge much about, is filled with a few surprises (such as why Brenda is still alive since she hasn’t had access to the serum that extended her life, and the return of a presumed dead character) and one terrific, edge-of-your-seat action scene after another. But it’s not just action for action’s sake, it all pulls the story together expertly.
The cast is uniformly excellent with star O’Brien really growing into the role of Thomas over the course of the series. Fan favorite Thomas Brodie-Sangster also has a much larger presence this time out and actually becomes the film’s true heart and soul (and his final words in the movie may bring a few tears to your eyes). The story works so well because as it all develops, we learn that “the bad guys” aren’t really bad, they’re just trying to save the world (okay, Janson is pretty much a mustache-twirling villain without the mustache but you have to have one really bad guy to root against). The introduction of Lawrence (Walton Goggins), a Crank (infected) with half of his face eaten away, complicates the heroes’ mission when he decides to take it upon himself to break through the city walls and show the people inside what it’s like for the infected outside. Not being totally engaged in the first two movies, I was pleasantly surprised by just how good this one is.
What’s surprising is that The Death Cure only has a budget $1 million higher than The Scorch Trials at $62 million. The movie looks like it cost at least $100 million more considering the extensive action scenes and use of CGI to create the massive city. The flying transport used throughout the film looks like a real, solid piece of machinery. I can’t say enough how impressed I was with the entire look of the movie, and yet it never detracted from the story or the characters. The Death Cure is, by far, the best of the three movies and a solid end to the series. And there’s no trickery here with the story continuing (although there are now two more books in the series). So if you’ve been a fan of the first two movies, you will definitely want to see the concluding chapter, and if you’re not, this spectacular conclusion should pique your interest in check it all out.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure has a run time of 2 hours 22 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, and some thematic elements.
Want to see Maze Runner: The Death Cure and judge for yourself? Click on the images below to buy your tickets now, and be sure to come back and tell us what you thought!