Friday, March 09, 2018

The Maze Runner: The Death Cure: Despite Its Discrepancies It's a Great Film

Movie Review: The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)
Version: Theater purchase

Finally, the third and final chapter of The Maze Runner series, The Death Cure, has illuminated the big screen. As with the earlier films, this movie doesn't track perfectly with the books on which it is based, but The Death Cure seems to go out of its way to tell a different story. That's its greatest weakness. For while Thomas, the main hero, survives the end of the story, the movie forgoes the uplifting ending of the book.

In this telling of the story, Thomas, Newt, and other Glade survivors of W.C.K.D.'s (WICKED's*) efforts to find a cure for the flame mount a rescue mission to save Minho, who was captured at the end of the second installment of the series (The Scorch Trials). Unlike in the book version, here W.C.K.D.'s research facility is in a city in the mountains, surrounded by a rebellious population looking to take down the organization responsible for spreading the infection. Gally, Thomas's foe from the beginning of The Maze Runner series, shows up again, despite being killed off early on to help the team get inside the well guarded city and into the research facility, where they face off against their arch enemy, Janson. Still working closely with Janson, the security arm of W.C.K.D., and Ava Paige, the lead scientist, is Teresa, whom Thomas has been close to romantically but opposed to in the search for freedom. And so, the battle is on to find and save Minho, whom W.C.K.D. has captured to torture for the much needed cure.

*In the book the organization is known as WICKED. In the movie it's been changed to W.C.K.D.

Now, keep in mind, in the book version Minho was just one of the test subjects. It was Thomas who was the hope of mankind for his blood's ability to fight off the infection. So the film reverses this idea, although they kind of bring it up again at the end of the film.

And in the book version, Thomas, Minho, and others visit the city in the mountains but leave it to return to WICKED headquarters along the ocean in the south, where they take their stand against WICKED. When the head of WICKED realizes how wrong it is that they have put the Gladers through so much to find a cure, they release them into a final paradise to live a better life, isolated from the destruction of the infection. In this film, the Gladers escape on their own, but we have no idea what their future will be.

Finally, we have the problem of the film's title. In the book's version, the title makes sense because WICKED wants to torture Thomas until death to find the ultimate cure. In the film's version, there is no reference to death in finding the cure -- in fact, there is no contextual relationship between the story and the title. To me, that is the ultimate sin to this film.

All that said, if you have never read the books you can enjoy this film. It is full of action. The special effects are great. The characters are just as compelling, played to the full by returning actors Dylan O'Brien as Thomas, Ki Hong Lee as Minho, Kaya Scodelario as Teresa, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt, and Aidan Gillen as the despicable Janson. The scene of Newt dying of the disease is just as haunting to see in the film as it was in reading it in the book, although the circumstances are a bit different. Without knowing the original story, The Death Cure caps the film trilogy well. It's worth seeing.

If you are a fan of the book series, you may have trouble with the freedom the filmmakers took in rewriting what was a wonderful story to suit their own creative needs. The first two films didn't vary as much, so this third film was a shock to me. Still, The Death Cure is a great film every Maze Runner fan should see.

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