BEIRUT: After the release of the second film in the trilogy back in 2015, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, no fans expected to wait until 2018 to receive the climactic conclusion. The wait was due to lead actor Dylan O’Brien getting seriously injured during a stunt gone wrong while in production on the latest installment.
With the wait finally over, Maze Runner: The Death Cure delivers everything a fan would want in a finale and more.
Picking up roughly six months after The Scorch Trials ended, the survivors of the final battle and of The Flare, a disease that has devastated the world’s population, have finally defined their purpose: to rescue those taken and find a safe haven away from the influence of WCKD.
WCKD’s motives are also quite clear: Dr. Ava Paige, WCKD’s executive director is close to what she believes is a cure for The Flare, but it comes by sacrificing the few young people left in the world who are apparently immune.
Thomas must now band together with fellow survivors, old and new, and take the battle to what may be the last remaining city and the final stronghold of WCKD.
What helps these three films the most is that they are all helmed by the same director.
Director Wes Ball focuses his vision and though he grants each entry its own identity, he doesn’t lose sight of the overarching story nor the trajectory of every character within the film.
The first film, with the maze, was all cement and decay: the color palette green and gray.
The second entry was the sand and rust of the scorch giving the film a gold and orange palette to reflect upon the harshness of the desert and the “scorching” heat.
The Death Cure, unlike its predecessors, is a world of glass and steel: cold, blue, sharp and unforgiving.
Along with these differing identities, each film also exhibits Ball’s growth and understanding of the narrative, characters, and even directorial techniques.
It’s quite apparent how much further he pushed his entire team to deliver an ending that all could be proud of, including the fans.
The film opens with an exciting sequence where heroes high-jack a speedy train in order to save one of their own.
Yet, it is not just the sequence’s high production value that impresses, but the fact that the sequence in and of itself sets the tone of the film, and establishes that our heroes are now a different group: organized and on the offensive.
From there on, the narrative builds and the stakes get higher and more challenging.
As much as all the characters maintained the family bond through the first two films, this time with a direct assault on WCKD, the strategy has become one of divide and conquer, requiring the group to split into teams to become even stronger.
It is a rare thing in franchise driven cinema to see a film that is willing to raise the stakes to the point of death and consequence in order to force its characters to grow and reach their highest potential.
The film’s final sequence, a massive take-over of the Last City, and WCKD’s headquarters, is as ambitious as it sounds, with practical visual effect explosions, extra, guns, and chaos.
Another strength the film has is that unlike other dystopian narratives, Maze Runner does seem like a possible future where medicine is held by corporations, rationed to those with the highest bid, while others are left to die or succumb to the symptoms.
At its core, the film is about family, and how far people would go to protect those they love, a theme that is not only powerful, but accessible and universal.
The film is not without flaws.
Much like its predecessors, there are some rough CGI moments, and even some moments that are predictable, yet the film’s overall entertainment factor and emotive storytelling make it easier for the audience to let go and enjoy the ride.
The cast deliver, but the true power behind the film is Dylan O’Brien.
The weight of the entire narrative rests upon his shoulders, and he carries all three films genuinely and confidently. His performance is dynamic and fueled by true emotions, which makes every beat accessible.
O’Brien is one to watch as he has now completed this trilogy as well as his role on MTV’s rebooted Teen Wolf, he will be able to expand and experiment.
John Paesano returns to compose the final score in the Maze Runner trilogy.
Trying to emulate the grand John Williams’ ability to merge and recall themes from prior films, Paesano does his best, but doesn’t fully succeed.
That’s not to say that the score is not good, because it very much is – and much better than the first two.
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