Tween Fiction no longer Box-Office Gold
In recent years big-screen adaptations of ‘tween fiction’ have been hugely successful at the box-office. Kick-started by the success of the Twilight and Hunger Games movies, producers keen to get on this gravy train quickly greenlit various adaptations of young adult novels like The Mortal Instruments, Divergent and the Maze Runner hoping to create viable new cinematic franchises.
As a fan of James Dashner’s Maze Runner books, I was excited to see them coming to the big screen, but in truth, none of these new franchises have been able to replicate the success of their predecessors. The Mortal Instruments was quickly retooled for Netflix, The Divergent series looks like it’ll follow suit with leading lady Shailene Woodley jumping ship in the process, but thankfully the producers of the Maze Runner movies have stuck it out to the end to serve up a series finale with The Death Cure.
The film’s release comes nearly three years after it’s predecessor (The Scorch Trails), following a delay in production caused by a serious injury to the film’s leading man Dylan O’Brien. Injured onset whilst filming a stunt for the movie, producers agreed to delay production until O’Brien was able to return to set and finish the job. They’ve claimed this extra time has allowed them more time to serve up a fantastic series finale for the fans, but now that the wait is over have they managed to do so?
Mazes, Cranks and WICKED
Opening with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the gang once again hot on the tails of WICKED, the evil corporation that locked them inside the original maze in the first movie. Following on from the previous film’s finale, Thomas and his friends are attempting to rescue their friend Minho (Ki Hong Lee), who is being transported to The Last City where WICKED’s evil Janson (Aidan Gillen) and Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) are attempting to find a cure for the deadly Flare virus that has infected many and turned them into zombie-like creatures, known as cranks.
The team decides that they must travel through the crank infested desert to save their friend, but along the way they encounter a ghost from their past and join forces with a vigilante group who plans to storm the city.
The build-up to the finale is promising but provides little to no detail as to who this mysterious vigilante group are, or who their mysterious leader Lawrence really is (Walton Goggins). It’s clear that WICKED’s tirade has spawned many years and affected many people, but perhaps this is a plot line that would’ve been better explored in the previous installment.
Has it Been Worth the Wait?
When you’re bringing a series to an end fans will be hoping all their unanswered questions are finally answered, but sadly The Death Cure ultimately asks more questions than it answers. Too many new characters, that we just don’t care about, are thrown into the mix and many of the key plot-points are left open-ended and not resolved satisfactorily at all.
The film’s real saving grace is Ball’s ability to create a sense of a world with such visual consistency throughout all three films. Visually there’s no doubt the same creative force has worked on this series from start to finish and that consistency makes the films feel much more like a complete trilogy.
In comparison, the Harry Potter films had several different directors at the helm throughout the series: which made it easier for viewers who hadn’t watched any of the previous films or read the books to just jump in and enjoy each film on their own merit. I don’t believe that’s the case with the Maze Runner movies, this is very much a trilogy and fans who’ve invested in the series, who’ve stuck with it from the first movie will probably get more from this film than casual viewers will.
As a fan of the previous films, I believe that this wasn’t the finale the series deserved. The Maze Runner was a great introduction to the franchise, but a lackluster second installment chipped away at the series’ credibility. So it’s no real surprise that even though there are five books within the series, including prequels, that producers have decided to draw a line in the sand and bring the franchise to an end!
Review by Therese Rea