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'Maze Runner: The Death Cure' Film Review: The series closes on a strong note, but mysteries still remain

January 26, 2018Ferdosa Abdi

There have been many attempts to capitalize on the success of The Hunger Games film adaptations, but many studios failed, with only the first film in their imagined franchises making it to theaters.

The Divergent series came close, but Lionsgate's overzealous ambitions got in the way, as they split the third book into two movies, and have since been unable to make that fourth film. The only other notable series that actually managed to be a decent financial success and make it all the way to its final chapter is the Maze Runner franchise. With most of the original cast still intact and director Wes Ball and screenwriter T.S. Nowlin returning from the first two movies, Maze Runner: The Death Cure is not perfect. However, for anyone who had hoped that this series would avoid the fate of being just another abandoned franchise, the results are sure to please.

The Death Cure doesn't solve many of the mysteries posed throughout the first two chapters. World-building has never been the series' main strength, and with every explanation the film does offer comes more unanswered questions. Suffice to say, if you are a fan of the series, you will not be entirely satisfied with the lack of resolution or the progression of the story. In many ways, the characters have been running in circles.

This time, Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Frypan (Dexter Darden) set out to rescue Minho (Ki Hong Lee), who was captured by WCKD after Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) betrayed them in 2015's Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. The movie opens with an incredible action sequence and quickly loses momentum after that. The problem with thes series has always been the writing, and although Ball excels at the action sequences, it is the connective tissue that has always been a bit weak.

Even though this is the best entry in the series, it still leaves many narrative avenues unexplored. Thomas' journey has also been poorly conceived, as he is clearly a leader, yet there is so much about his past that the story never delves into. We get snippets here and there — that he worked for WCKD, but his conscience couldn't handle it — but it would have been nice to engage with that Thomas a bit more. We still don't know why both he and Teresa were sent into the maze. Plot threads that were established over the first two chapters are never tied together.

Still, despite all the problems with the writing and world-building, Maze Runner: The Death Cure is very enjoyable. The characters are not all that well-defined, but the actors do contribute a lot to give them personalities. One of the series' greatest strengths has been the casting, and the diversity and talent on display here make it easy for viewers to invest in these protagonists and root for their survival. Fans of the books may get what they want, fans of the movies may feel a little cheated, but in the end there is still a lot to love.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure releases January 26th, 2018 from 20th Century Fox. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, and some thematic elements. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 22 min.

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