Over the past decade, young adult novels have been heavily adapted to film with Hunger Games, Divergent, The 5th Wave, and The Maze Runner to name a few. With their waning popularity, I still find myself interested in the stories that these films have to tell. The first two installments in The Maze Runner franchise are enjoyable and I found myself looking forward to the conclusion of the story. The Death Cure does a lot right but it also falters along the way. The opening sequence is an adrenaline pumping action ride deserving of a blockbuster. I found myself highly entertained and on the edge of my seat while watching this scene. It and some other great action moments were some of the highlights of the film however highly predictable plot points made some otherwise great moments fall flat.
With the plentiful array of stories out in the world predictability is bound to occur but I found Maze Runner: The Death Cure to stumble greatly when I saw so many moments coming without even having to think about it. While I found some of the story to be lackluster due to this, I also found the villainous organization WCKD (Wicked) to be humanized in a delightful way in this film. I love when the villain of a story is shown to be more human and the lines of morality are grayed. There were some wonderful moments that demonstrated the idea that Wicked was genuinely trying to do what they thought was right and I found myself understanding their ideology. The idea that the minority must perish in order to save the many is an ethical dilemma as old as time and it worked well in this film. That said, the entire organization wasn’t grayed in their motivations. Janson (Aidan Gillen) was the true personification of evil in this story and he did a fantastic job of it. Anyone who has watched Game of Thrones, knows how villainous and daft Gillen can act and The Death Cure was no exception. I could watch anything with Aidan Gillen, especially if he is a villain.
Another area important to storytelling is character motivation. The motivation of the characters in this films are ludicrous and idiotic at best. The premise of the film is that the main characters go on a suicide mission to save one person. The second film ends with Thomas saying he’s going to take Wicked down and then the final film they mostly abandon this idea and instead, seek to save a friend. The villain’s motivation was pure and made sense and yet, the heroes of this story went off on a nonsensical mission that conveniently also led them in the same direction as fighting the bad guys. It made me lose respect for the main character seeing that he would take his friends on a mission that would easily kill many in order to save one life. I could have stood behind a mission to take down Wiched and save the world but not to save one life, even if it is a dearly beloved friend.
Regardless of some predictability, poor character motivations and an anti climactic ending there was great character development and acting to go around. Thomas and Newt worked exceptionally well together and they had some fantastic moments on screen. Brenda and Jorge were enjoyable as always even if they were occasionally upstaged by the characters in the first film. They contributed greatly to the story and were extremely heroic many times over. A character from the first film returns and adds a layer of redemption and forgiveness to the story which was pleasantly received.
Action and destruction were heavily present in this film and it was incredible. There were times that felt like a Die Hard film or something out of Fast and Furious and it was epic! I didn’t enter the theater expecting to be intellectually stimulated. I go to a young adult film like this expecting a popcorn flick with a decent story and it was definitely a great popcorn flick that I will watch again. Many moments kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the heroes would get out of a sticky situation that seemed impossible. I found these scenes exhilarating and plan on watching them again some day.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is by no means a perfect movie but it delivered a fun adventure that I plan to watch again when I want a movie to simply sit back and enjoy. Now that I know about the “meh” ending and some of the otherwise eye rolling motivations, I will be able to enjoy it for what it is: a teenage post apocalyptic film meant to be entertaining. As Maximus inquires in Gladiator, “Are you not entertained?”. I reply, “Yes.”
3 out of 5 Couch Cushions!!!