Directed by Wes Ball, The Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the third and final film in the adaptations of James Dashner‘s series of Maze Runner novels. As Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet – including Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Frypan (Dexter Darden), Brenda (Rosa Salazar) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) – they must break into the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all, on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as “The Flare”. Anyone who makes it out alive will get answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze.
The following post is a review of the film only. You can read my review of the book here or my comparison of the film to the book here.
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a well-rounded finale to a somewhat hit and miss trilogy of adaptations. Already set up by its predecessor to be very different from the book, The Death Cure wasn’t helped by a pushed back release date when so many young adult dystopias have been attempted and mostly forgotten about over the past few years, but it may just be the instalment to remind you how good some of them were.
When you don’t think of it is an adaptation, The Death Cure is an entertaining young adult adaptation. It has some good action, likeable characters, and there are quite a few surprisingly emotional and heartfelt moments that may dupe you into thinking that you actually cared about this franchise this whole time. This instalment certainly makes up for the many mistakes in the second instalment, anyway. It just doesn’t have much substance because of everything that has been lost from it.
The trouble with this adaptation is that the previous film, The Scorch Trials, was so different from the second book that this final instalment had no choice but to follow in the same way. With the way that The Scorch Trials film ended, there was no way that The Death Cure could go back on itself to explore the few things that made the book such a decent read. Instead, it was obvious from the outset that it was going to have to take on a story of its own.
And that’s why you’ll either love or hate this film. If you haven’t read the books, you’ll likely think that The Death Cure is a decent teen action. It might not make a lot of sense or have any relevance, but Dylan O’Brien leads a great cast who keep you engaged. Fans of the book, however, probably stopped being interested in these films after watching The Scorch Trials and will be really disappointed with how far these films have moved away from Dashner’s work. The films have lost all context of the books, with the cure losing all of its importance and the characters losing their relevance and, because of that, it just doesn’t hold together as well. To make matters worse, the many questions we have from the first two films are completely ignored and all of the significance of the trials has faded into the background.
If the film followed the book more closely, especially in its final half, then this could have been the finale we had all waited so long for. The book sees the characters re-enter the maze and take on WCKD as a team, as the government’s actions and intentions are laid out flat for us to understand how this dystopian future world came into existence. The film, however, forgets its origins and seems to start its own battles. It loses a lot of what makes the books stand out and puts its focus all in the wrong places. Still, it somehow manages to be an enjoyable watch, despite this.
Whilst I would normally hate a film adaptation for being so different to a book that I quite enjoyed, I don’t dislike this film as much as I did the second adaptation, despite the even bigger and constant changes. Maybe it’s because I knew that the film wasn’t going to follow the book very closely from the start so I was rid of any high expectations and could enjoy it for what it is, or maybe it was those heartfelt moments that really did trick me into thinking I liked this film a lot more than I did.
Either way, The Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a satisfying enough conclusion to a trilogy that is far more interesting to read than watch.