Contemporary Review / Review

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

by Courtney Ravelo

MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE

The third and final installment of The Maze Runner series started off with a bang — literally, there were explosions. The much anticipated film was filled with high stakes and rapid action from start to finish. Director Wes Ball took careful time to make sure each character had their shining moment.

What we were left off with from The Scorch Trials (the second installment of the book/film franchise) was that Minho was kidnapped by WCKD, the corporation that took kids immune to the “Flare” virus to study them and try and find a cure. At the end of the film, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends go get him back. I don’t like spoilers, so I’ll leave out the main plot points of The Death Cure, but basically, they set out to destroy WCKD and it comes to a final showdown.

The cinematography involved a lot of wide angle shots and sweeping motions to catch large CGI’d landscapes, such as “The Scorch” from the previous film. The underscoring of music was your typical “feel anxiety here” but overall it was nothing special. What was special was the sound editing. The “Cranks” (zombiefied people) make these awful inhuman noises that, when paired with all the other noises that were happening, instilled fear into the audience. The sounds brought out were very specific and enhanced the progression of the story. The effects also never overwhelmed the viewer or distracted from the dialogue.

Something I noticed about the film is that there was adequate representation of people of color. Although Thomas is white, a lot of the people surrounding him are of color. It also goes to show that WCKD was staffed almost entirely of white men and women, who eventually get defeated. The first shot of the film is of two Latin people. As someone who is Latin, things like that do not go unnoticed. In The Maze Runner films, people of color are redeemable characters and the diversity of the real world is not ignored, but promoted.

All in all, I had a couple of qualms. My first was that, as an avid lover of the book series, the movies over time resembled the books less and less. Although the key plot points of The Death Cure were there, the movie was so vastly different from the book that I didn’t get to have that secure feeling of knowing what happens next. That can be disconcerting and even disappointing to a true fan. However, for someone who only likes the movies,  it was very well done.

My other worry is that the important parts of the story were sacrificed to make the movie cinematically extravagant. What we as an audience lost in conversational dialogue and character development we gained in cars flipping over and buildings exploding. There were a lot of guns being shot. A lot of guns. This series was first and foremost meant for children, and although the films were all labeled PG-13, The Death Cure seemed to pander to a much more adult audience than was intended by the novel’s writer, James Dashner.

One other part I noticed was that the heroes were in constant need of saving. Thoroughly thought out plans are all well and good, but it came off more as cop out after cop out. Every scene was an inescapable situation until someone swooped in and did something remarkable and quite frankly, usually unbelievable. This might be more of the writer’s fault rather than the director’s, but there could have been more ways of maintaining realistic situations and also keeping the action going. Every scene was stress-inducing, which can be tiring after a while. There wasn’t a lot of respite for the viewer.

Overall, I thought The Maze Runner: The Death Cure was a well executed film that spread a positive message: when the disenfranchised rise up, the powers that be will crumble.

4 out of 5 stars

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