Courtesy of Fox
Long gone are the days of the "Maze" in the gasping for air franchise that is "The Maze Runner." A carbon copy and last ditch effort for Hollywood attempting to revitalize young adult books into blockbuster franchises.
Back in 2014, when "The Maze Runner" was released, "The Hunger Games" were starting to fade, and "Twilight" had just finished its run, and "The 5th Wave" looked poised to jump start something entirely different. Now, four years later, it's really hard to grasp what these kids are fighting for. I can say it has something do with zombie like creatures called "cranks," and finding a cure for a plague that's wiping out the human race.
The first "Maze Runner" was a blast of fresh air, it was an intense, engrossing, and mysteriously satisfying ride. The reason that film worked was because director Wes Ball, director of all three entries, knew it's best asset was keeping the audience on our toes. The whole idea of this so-called maze was steeped in secrecy. When leading protagonist Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) showed up in this neverending landscape called The Glade, the concept was intriguing. But then we find out it was just a study for a few test subjects. And the backdrop for a shady organization called "WICKED."
What's really hurt this franchise is that, it's taken the core elements like, ahem, the maze: stripped it out and has fallen into a thrilless and recycled version of every dystopian society movie ever. Now the plot revolves around our squad trying to infiltrate a city and save the test subjects once and for all. That's the jist, and man does this movie take it's time reaching that threshold. I'm not joking when I say, this movie doesn't know when to quit. I counted approximately 256 endings on this sucker, with an additional 45 minutes of useless footage that could've been trimmed for a mean and leaner runtime. "Death Cure" is pushing two and half hours, and you feel it. It's like a drill that keeps impacting your skull, and doesn't stop.
Not to mention there's about 15 different subplots all going on at once (including Walter Goggins in full skeletor mode as a vigilante warlord with absolutely no backstory whatsoever.) Equally, you'll never believe these characters are in any actual danger, because It's not a matter of IF these guys will be saved, it's WHEN. "Death Cure" works best when the team is working together towards a common goal, like an opening sequence that involves the crew saving a train full of subjects, a well timed and exciting action set piece no less. What doesn't work is splitting them up for the entire second act.
Someday, I'd like to sit down and ask these film executives why they thought 140 minutes was a reasonable length. Especially considering the first two both clocked in around the two hour mark. "The Maze Runner" worked because it had the fast pace energy and charamstic ensemble to keep the movie in motion. "Death Cure," I've already forgotten about it's sequel "Scorch Trials," is a definitive example of a franchise with barley a pulse to register, and a series that should've ended two movies ago. D+