Thomas and his cohorts return for a third and final adventure in Maze Runner: The Death Cure, the sluggish conclusion to the Maze runner franchise that dazzles with spectacle but has issues filling in the gaps.
When we first met Thomas he had his memory erased and suddenly appeared in the Maze, a dangerous prison whose inhabitants had no idea why they were there. Upon eventually escaping with a group of collaborators, Thomas learns that the evil organization WCKD put them in the Maze because they’re young and immune to the Flare virus that has wiped out most of mankind.
After surviving the Scorch, a desolate wasteland where those infected by the virus roam freely as something resembling highly aggressive and fast zombies, Thomas sets out to rescue his friend Minho from the clutches of WCKD as The Death Cure gets underway. This quest takes Thomas and his friends to the heart of WCKD in the last remaining city standing, where Thomas fulfills his destiny and confronts Teresa, the only woman from the Maze who chose to betray her friends in order to seek a cure for the Flare virus.
The Death Cure is a series of elaborately filmed action sequences padded by overly mundane exposition and musing. It opens with a rather thrilling train heist and concludes with several more heists, all of which sparkle with visual spectacle.
Even though The Death Cure tries to raise the stakes as the series concludes, it never manages to recapture the sheer thrill and terror offered by the original. The only scene that does is artificially placed into a characters mind.
Instead, the action aims to be bigger with massive scope and a literally explosive final act. By raising the scale, there are numerous cringe-worthy and laughable moments that defy logic. One minute characters are surrounded by zombies on both sides of a tunnel and the next they’re driving out with nary a zombie in sight. Whereas in The Maze Runner, it took logic and deduction to ultimately escape the Maze.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure caught me off guard a bit with its HDR handling of light. The opening train heist is shot during the day and I was impressed with the intact grittiness and bright detail during the sequence. There’s a depth to the barren landscape making it feel as if you’re on the set and along for the ride.
Even more impressive is the final act shot entirely at night. Here the black levels dive deep into darkness and this 4K presentation handles them like a champ. Particularly worth showering praise upon are numerous bright fireball explosions that light up the night sky.
The Dolby Atmos audio mix asks the video presentation to hold its beer and ramps up the fidelity to another level. Directional effects kick into gear within seconds of the opening shot and that immersion carries on throughout. Where there are explosions there is bass, and The Death Cure does not disappoint.
Bonus features are housed on the inclusive Blu-ray and offer a nice range of options, including some cut footage that big fans of The Maze Runner books will definitely want to check out.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin, and Joe Hartwick Jr. (BD and Digital Only)
- 4 Featurettes: The Final Run, Dystopia, Allies Reunited, A Look Back, Going Out on Top (BD and Digital only)
- Gag Reel (BD and Digital only)
- Visual Effects with Optional Commentary (BD and Digital only)
- Audio Commentary by Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin and Joe Hartwick Jr. (on DVD, BD, UHD, and digital)
- Gallery (over 300 images; BD and digital)
Chances are unless you’ve a devoted fan of the book series that Maze Runner: The Death Cure is based upon, your recollection of the precise events of the second film will be hazy moving into this film. After awhile it all comes together so don’t feel a pressing need to go backward before moving forward.
The Death Cure is a fun ride at times that needed about 30-40 minutes trimmed off its run-time. It’s a far better 4K showcase than the film’s quality, and for that reason alone is worth a rent at minimum.
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