When The Maze Runner came out, it was in the middle of both The Hunger Games and Divergent franchise runs. At the time, everyone rolled their eyes at another post-apocalyptic franchise that would adapt a best-selling young adult novel series, but that was before the movie was released. As the film showed, some new elements could be brought to the genre. As it was a success, its sequel The Scorch Trials was released. While the movie continued to evolve the pretty great characters the series had set up, it also got a bit off track once the characters ventured outside the maze, never really capturing exactly what it wanted to. Luckily, the series finally, The Death Cure, does exactly that. It not only brings the story full circle, but puts a heavy emotional focus on its characters.
The Death Cure picks up six months after the events of The Scorch Trials, where the good guys (Rebels?) were left hanging on a cliff after one of their own, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), turned on them and went with WCKD. The beginning of this film is fantastic. It starts with a pretty badass train sequence that is no doubt inspired by the complete awesomeness of Mad Max. This scene does two things. One, it lets us, as viewers, know that we’re getting what we paid for. As the final movie in the series, director Wes Ball no doubt had a little bit more to work with and it showed. Second, the story hinges on this sequence. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and the others are there to rescue Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from WCKD, but as they fail to do so, Thomas is now on a manhunt to save his friend while also taking down the organization responsible for it.
The shining aspect of this film is the chemistry between all these characters. Not just Thomas, Newt, Minho and Frypan (Dexter Darden), but Brenda (Rosa Salazar), Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and even Vince (Barry Pepper). You completely believe in this brotherhood these characters live off of and even more feel the emotional punch when some things don’t go there way. Unfortunately, while that part shined through-and-through, the film itself was dragged down by a piece or two that was just unnecessary, such as a wacky rebellion leader (Walter Goggins) with his own motives and a love story between Thomas and Teresa that made us question our main hero overall.
While that last point is one of its weak spots, Teresa’s personal storyline is a surprise. I haven’t been all that interested in her character from the beginning, but I became interested after her turn in the last film. It was unexpected, and turning a main character to the other side is something we don’t really see in this genre. I didn’t know what to expect from her in this movie, but happy to say that her story paid off. Her actions play opposite great agains the brotherhood of Gladers. Teresa is who we would be, who ultimately realizes that although WCKD goes about their business in every wrong way possible, they’re working to save the human race, which is the bigger picture. She knows what she’s sacrificing, but also know that her sacrifice could mean saving the lives of thousands.
I can see why others may be bored with characters kind of running around doing the same thing, but I for one have become invested in these characters and their ultimate goal. Is it similar to all the other YA adaptations? Sure, but in my opinion, there’s been no better character connections than in this series. Led by future Hollywood star Dylan O’Brien, this young group of characters were surprisingly engaging, and worth following for three movies.
What I can’t end without saying is how much I applaud director Wes Ball for the risks he took with the franchise. I haven’t read the series so I’m not too sure how accurate the movies are, but there were many surprises in this final chapter that I was very happy with. Both The Hunger Games and Divergent had their fair share of deaths, but each of them ended with the main group of characters happily ever. The Death Cure held deaths of two major characters, which is something I wasn’t sure the movie had the balls to pull off.
The Death Cure does have its fair share of problems, but for myself, the good outweighs the bad. As its final installment, I enjoyed journeying along this story with this brotherhood of characters. While it may not be a Catching Fire or even the first entry in this series, The Death Cure does a good enough job of bringing everything full circle, for both the story and characters. If you had questions, you’ll have answers. Dare I say it crossed the finish line with an acceptable time.
Rating: 7 out of 10.