The first “Maze Runner” film, released in 2014, was an adaptation of a young adult novel published in 2009. In the time since the book and movie have been released, the “Harry Potter” franchise ended, beginning a new spin-off series.“The Hunger Games” kicked off another wave of book adaptations, which ultimately killed the young adult adaptation rush in 2015.
I bring this up because “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” feels cliched and dated, even by young adult novel adaptation standards. It feels more at home in 2012-2014, when this craze was reaching its peak. While I admit I have not read the books or seen the previous films, and my knowledge of the story is surface-level, I find it hard to believe that audiences can find any excitement or originality in this finale.
Taking place soon after the previous film, “The Death Cure” finds Thomas and friends trying to infiltrate the Last City and safe haven in this post-apocalyptic world run by the corporation WCKD. While their mission is to save their kidnapped friend, Minho, there seems to be more going on behind the city walls as WCKD tries to find a cure for the disease wiping out humanity.
While watching “The Death Cure,” I felt I had seen this all before. The setting and action scenes feel heavily inspired by the recent “Mad Max” film and the story and characters feel like less developed versions of the cast from the “Hunger Games” franchise.
This feeling of familiarity is the film’s largest problem, as it makes the entire endeavor unnecessary. Audiences have most likely seen every set piece and heard every line in better movies, making the nearly two-and-a-half hour running time a slog to get through. Instead of taking “Hunger Games meets Mad Max” and running with that premise, the film simply takes the basic elements of those series and rehashes them verbatim.
This isn’t to say “The Death Cure” is a slow moving film, quite the opposite in fact. There are few moments of downtime, with the final hour consisting of non-stop action scenes and explosive reveals. This is also an issue, as we never see these characters change over the course of the film.
While all of the development may have happened in the previous film, it’s still weird to see a whole cast of characters who remain the same despite the supposedly earth-shattering events happening around them.
In order to make up for the lack of development, the filmmakers try to have as many “cool” moments as possible, which are honestly laughable at times. There are too many convenient and inconsistent plans or character motivations to keep things coherent, making the final revelations and confrontations resemble the director shrugging at the audience.
Overall, that sensation of redundancy is the general feeling I get from this film. The actors and filmmaking are passable. The dialogue is so cliched I could predict most of the script and the plot developments are far from shocking. Everyone seems to have shown up just to get a final paycheck, as if it were an obligation in their contract and not a story or series they felt invested in.
This negatively affects everything “The Death Cure” tries to do in an interesting way. Certain elements of the story and characters have unique elements, but since everyone seems to want to get the hell off the set, nothing is ever done to explore these aspects and make a better movie.
Overall, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” is a confused, if predictable, film that never aims for higher aspirations, nor reaches its own low goals of satisfyingly ending this superfluous series.
Sam Goodrich Staff Writer