By: Hawk Ripjaw –
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Right now, our very own Ken Eckman is watching the Harry Potter movies for the first time. He hasn’t read the books either, which is making things very fresh. Rewatching them myself, I can also see what is so profoundly wrong with the first two films. What’s interesting about film adaptations of books, especially books with a long-running lore, is that the films simply cannot put everything from the books into the movies (though Chris Columbus tried like hell to cram every single scene into those first two movies). You’re always going to be missing something, so Harry Potter is certainly a series that benefits from having read the books so they can fill in some gaps such as what the four Hogwarts houses mean and why you should care. There’s a freshness and sense of discovery if you’re seeing the films without reading the book, but the world doesn’t feel quite complete.
I mention this because I saw The Maze Runner without reading the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It played its cards close to the chest, and the world-building was just enough to keep you in the dark before blowing the lid off in the final act in a very satisfying way. It’s a good example of a movie that can surprise newcomers and, from what I’ve heard, still satisfy fans of the book.
Then The Scorch Trials came out, and it turned out that this world doesn’t really have much else of interest besides a strong cast and talented action filmmaker behind it. There’s not really much mystery to it anymore. The flavorless post-apocalyptic desert and its zombie things are far less compelling than the isolated, Lord of the Flies politics of the Maze. The new reveals of the designs of obviously named WCKD (World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department is just awful and screams of something named specifically for an acronym) are forgettable at best. Sure, it looks cool, but man does it have almost nothing to say.
So for The Death Cure, which almost snuck up on me after a long delay for star Dylan O’Brien, bless him, to recover from a brutal injury on set, it’s hard to get too excited. We can rely on some cool action based on the exciting trailer, but for this final installment to really bring things home it needs to put the curtain back up and tell a story more substantial. I do want to see the conclusion to this story, but there seems to be a very clearly defined end to this series and it’s relatively obvious where things can go just in terms of how this type of story is usually told. Give me some real stakes and some more mystery, and I’ll be happy.
It’ll probably be fine, and that’s kind of disappointing.