Skip to main content

The virus is airborne. It's inside the walls.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure
(2018)

(SPOILERS) Purely by dint of having no outright terrible instalments – see the Twilights – and through actually finishing its story – see Divergence – without the succumbing to inadvisable hacking in half of final chapters– Hunger GamesMaze Runner ends up as one of the more consistent YA adaptations. Which isn’t to say it's ever been outright great; the premise is much too wonky for that. But director Wes Ball has lent the trilogy a degree of consistency that's relatively rare. Indeed, the biggest problem with the final instalment is that it doesn't know when to quit.


Or more accurately, it should have started a lot later. Ball could comfortably have excised most of the first hour and gone straight into the good stuff, so ensuring fatigue didn't get the better of the audience. Certainly, it took me three sittings to get through Death Cure, and I say that having, on balance, enjoyed it. Once the action reaches the Last City, the movie hits its stride, and for what is reportedly a medium-range price tag ($62m) Ball puts every bit of it on screen. The city sequences are well-staged and verisimilitudinous, and a fair degree of tension is built up by as the group enter WCKD headquarters in disguise.


They're there, ostensibly, to rescue Minho (Ki Hong Lee), who I had no recollection of thanks to the three years since the last movie. But hero Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) as much wants to catch up with Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), who only went and betrayed him last time out. At this point in the story, one of the issues is that the constraints of its youthfulness begin to show. It's one thing to have these kids on the run, but to have Thomas now a respected leader strains credulity. Not that there are many adults about apart from Barry Pepper and Giancarlo Esposito. And later, Walton Goggins in some gnarly noseless makeup that renders his precious hairpiece/plugs untarnished. O'Brien's consistently the weak link in all this, desperately trying to be a young Mark Wahlberg but coming across more like Colin Hanks. 


In contrast, Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt) and Will Poulter (Gally, back from the grave) all acquit themselves with honours. Teresa has surprisingly layered motivation, ostensibly doing our heroes gross injustices but motivated out of entirely utilitarian principles. Indeed, if Thomas had only listened to her rather than raging and hitting things, Newt might have survived. Of whom, Sangster pulls out all the stops wrestling with his better nature as he transforms into a Crank. Rose Salazar (the enhanced-eyed lead in the forthcoming Alita: Battle Angel) is also good as Brenda, but has little to do beyond mooning after the unattainable Thomas.


While there are some solid plot developments along the way – the Last City has been an enclave protecting WCKD and a populace living relatively normal lives, give or take a nightly curfew, but now we learn the virus has gone airborne – there's unfortunately a rather trite, obvious saviour solution to everything; it's Thomas whose immunity represents the key to a cure. We're also faced with a crazed Aiden Gillen indiscriminately going on the rampage during the climax, which is incredibly tiresome (he really needs to start turning down these bad guy parts, or find a more interesting way to play them).


By the looks of things, the survivors have Lord of the Flies all over them, aside from two old types, so who knows what state they'll be in a few years down the line. Death Cure arrived a good year later than expected due to O'Brien's serious injury during initial filming in early 2016. As such, it probably lost all the momentum it had going for it. Albeit, The Scorch Trials was also a step down on the breakout success of the original. Nevertheless, the bottom didn't fall out of this franchise, and if you can stick with it through the bloat, it's a reasonably satisfying conclusion.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

He’s probably paranoid, high-strung, doesn’t like daylight. You know, has a lot of crumbs in his beard, if he has a beard.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) (SPOILERS) I’d like to report I had a blast with Godzilla vs. Kong . It’s lighter on its oversized, city-stomping feet than its slog of a MonsterVerse predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters , and there are flashes of visual inspiration along with several engaging core ideas (which, to be fair, the series had already laid the seeds for). But this sequel still stumbles in its chief task: assembling an engaging, lively story that successfully integrates both tiny humans and towering titans.

Roswell was a smokescreen, we've had a half a dozen better salvage operations.

The X-Files 1.24: The Erlenmeyer Flask The Erlenmeyer Flask makes for a fast-paced, tense and eventful ride, but does it make any sense? That less than mattered at the time, but revisiting the mythology arc (for probably the fourth or fifth time) reveals increasingly tenuous internal coherence as the various conspiracy elements begin to pile up and the situations become ever-more convoluted. This will become the Chris Carter’s signature: don’t examine the details too closely, go with the flow. Trust Chris implicitly.

It's Dark Age, by Jupiter!

The Dig (2021) (SPOILERS) An account of the greatest archaeological find Britain would know until Professor Horner opened the barrow at Devil’s End. And should you scoff at such “ fiction ”, that’s nothing on this adaptation of John Preston’s 2007 novel concerning the Sutton Hoo excavations of the late 1930s. The Dig , as is the onus of any compelling fictional account, takes liberties with the source material, but the erring from the straight and narrow in this case is less an issue than the shift in focus from characters and elements successfully established during the first hour.

UFO IN MOSSINGHAM?

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020) (SPOILERS) One might reasonably suggest the recourse of the ailing or desperate franchise is to resort, seemingly out of nowhere, to space aliens. Even Police Academy didn’t go that far (to Moscow, yes, but not to space). Perhaps animators think kids have no skills of discernment and will swallow any old sugar-coated crap. Perhaps they don’t, and they will. Ice Age had been enjoying absurd success until Collision Course sent Scrat spinning into the cosmos and grosses tumbled. Shaun the Sheep has been around for a quarter of a century, but this is only his second movie outing and already he’s pulling an E.T. on us. Of course, this may all be part of the grand scheme, and Nick Park is simply doing his bit to familiarise the tots in time for Project Blue Beam.

You stink, my friend.

Mulan (2020) (SPOILERS) Let that be a lesson to Disney. It’s a fool’s errand to try and beat the Chinese at their own game, no matter how painstakingly respectful – or rather, pandering – you are. Indeed, Mulan ’s abysmal $40m box office take in the country – where it did get a proper release, so no plandemic excuses can be cited – feels like a direct rebuke; don’t try and tell us how to suck eggs. There’s an additional explanation too, of course. That Mulan sucks.

By heaven, I’d thrash the life out of you… if I didn’t have to read the Nine O’Clock News.

The Green Man (1956) (SPOILERS) The Green movie from Launder and Gilliat starring Alastair Sim that isn’t Green for Danger. Which is to say, The Green Man can’t quite scale the heady heights of that decade-earlier murder mystery triumph, but neither is it any slouch. Sim is the antagonist this time – albeit a very affable, Sim-ish one – and his sometime protégée, a young George Cole, the hero. If the plot is entirely absurd, Robert Day’s movie wastes no time probing such insufficiencies, ensuring it is very funny, lively and beautifully performed.

Suspicions of destiny. We all have them. A deep, wordless knowledge that our time has come.

Damien: Omen II (1978) (SPOILERS) There’s an undercurrent of unfulfilled potential with the Omen series, an opportunity to explore the machinations of the Antichrist and his minions largely ignored in favour of Final Destination deaths every twenty minutes or so. Of the exploration there is, however, the better part is found in Damien: Omen II , where we’re privy to the parallel efforts of a twelve or thirteen-year-old Damien at military school and those of Thorn Industries. The natural home of the diabolical is, after all, big business. Consequently, while this sequel is much less slick than the original, it is also more engaging dramatically.

A subterranean Loch Ness Monster?

Doctor Who The Silurians No, I’m not going to refer to The Silurians as Doctor Who and the Silurians . I’m going to refer to it as Doctor Who and the Eocenes . The Silurians plays a blinder. Because both this and Inferno know the secret of an extended – some might say overlong – story is to keep the plot moving, they barely drag at all and are consequently much fleeter of foot than many a four parter. Unlike Malcolm Hulke’s sequel The Sea Devils , The Silurians has more than enough plot and deals it out judiciously (the plague, when it comes, kicks the story up a gear at the precarious burn-out stage of a typical four-plus parter). What’s most notable, though, is how engaging those first four episodes are, building the story slowly but absorbingly and with persuasive confidence.

Farewell, dear shithead, farewell.

Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) (SPOILERS) I saw Highlander II: The Quickening at the cinema. Yes, I actually paid money to see one of the worst mainstream sequels ever on the big screen. I didn’t bother investigating the Director’s Cut until now, since the movie struck me as entirely unsalvageable. I was sufficiently disenchanted with all things Highlander that I skipped the TV series and slipshod sequels, eventually catching Christopher Lambert’s last appearance as Connor MacLeod in Highlander: End Game by accident rather than design. But Highlander II ’s on YouTube , and the quality is decent, so maybe the Director’s Cut improve matters and is worth a reappraisal? Not really. It’s still a fundamentally, mystifyingly botched retcon enabling the further adventures of MacLeod, just not quite as transparently shredded in the editing room.

Well, I’ll be damned. It’s the gentleman guppy.

Waterworld (1995) (SPOILERS) The production and budgetary woes of “ Kevin’s Gate ” will forever overshadow the movie’s content (and while it may have been the most expensive movie ever to that point – adjusted for inflation, it seems only Cleopatra came close – it has since turned a profit). However, should you somehow manage to avoid the distraction of those legendary problems, the real qualitative concerns are sure to come sailing over the cognitive horizon eventually; Waterworld is just so damned derivative. It’s a seafaring Mad Max. Peter Rader, who first came up with the idea in 1986, admitted as much. David Twohy, who later came aboard, also cited Mad Max 2 ; that kind of rip-off aspect – Jaws birthing Piranha – makes it unsurprising Waterworld was once under consideration by Roger Corman (he couldn’t cost it cheaply enough). Ultimately, there’s never a sufficient sense the movie has managed to become its own thing. Which is a bummer, because it’s frequently quite good fun.