The Death Cure"
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2018
Running Time: 143 minutes
The mistake that is commonly made when it comes to completing a film franchise based on a successful series of young adult books is to split the final installment into two parts. The result is usually a dull and talky first part that merely serves to set up an action-filled climax. See, for example, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Then there is the case of The Divergent Series, which miscalculated its popularity, attempted to split the conclusion Allegiant in two, only to witness the first part crash and burn at the box office before the second and final part could begin production. The Maze Runner franchise avoids either scenario by wisely keeping intact its source material, James Dashner’s novel “The Death Cure.” This ensures The Death Cure isn’t unnecessarily extended over two films in the name of squeezing a few extra bucks out of a franchise that never achieved the same level of box office success as the first two films in The Divergent Series. And, from a creative standpoint, The Death Cure doesn’t boast a strong enough story to sustain two films. This is just a “search-and-rescue” mission that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. At least The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials director Wes Ball returns to direct this finale, which is a rarity when most YA film franchises change hands one or two sequels in. Ball’s intimate knowledge of his beleaguered protagonists and their predicament serves The Death Cure well, and he brings welcome visual and thematic continuity to a franchise that changes goals and locations with each installation. The Death Cure finds the survivors of the deadly maze known as the “Glade” now camped outside the intimidating wall of the so-called “Last City.” Here, the scientific organization WCKD is developing a cure to a deadly virus known as the Flare, which turns the infected into living, breathing zombie-like creatures. As you may or may not remember, the Patricia Clarkson-led WCKD experiment on young people immune from the virus in a bid to find a cure. Led by Dylan O’Brien’s Thomas, the survivors sneak into the Last City to rescue Ki Hong Lee’s Minho, who was captured by WCKD at the end of The Scorch Trials. However, this means Thomas must form an uneasy alliance with the Cranks, an army of the functioning infected that is less concerned with a cure than giving WCKD a taste of its own medicine. The Maze Runner, and to a lesser extent the desert-set The Scorch Trials, both did a superior job of creating environments that felt unique among YA film franchises. Unfortunately, The Death Cure is weakened by its move to the Last City, which looks almost identical to the dystopian Chicago of The Divergent Series. The Death Cure quickly becomes indistinguishable from Divergent and its sequels. You half-expect Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster et al. to bump into Shailene Woodley and Theo James as both parties face their respective oppressors. The Death Cure also takes some time to get going. Despite the inclusion of several rousing action sequences, the first two acts are mostly concerned with the experiments conducted by Clarkson’s Ava Paige and her protégée Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). Teresa, of course, betrayed her fellow “Gladers” at the end of The Scorch Trials, but Thomas sees her as the key to saving Minho. The Death Cure doesn’t shy away from the ethical questions prompted by the experiments undertaken by WCKD. But the mass destruction on display during The Death Cure’s final act negates all arguments made in favor of or against sacrificing the lives of a few in order to save millions. Instead, The Death Cure opens itself up to same debate that the end of Man of Steel instigated. That said, Ball stages the climatic urban clash between WCKD and the Cranks with the tension and significance it warrants. With a script credited to T.S. Nowlin, The Death Cure does ultimately paint itself into a corner by placing an emphasis a violent resolution over one based on the science that’s driven the narrative over the course of three films. Sure, The Death Cure ends with the prospective of a brighter future, but it seems to come at a cost greater than the one proposed by its antagonists.
Aired: Feb. 1, 2018
Web site: https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/maze-runner-the-death-cure