The reviews aren't pretty for the third and final chapter in the Maze Runner film series, The Death Cure. Expectations should never be all that high for a Young Adult franchise threequel, especially not one released in the barren box office wasteland that is January. The fact that Maze Runner: The Death Cure arrives well after the Young Adult movie trend has come and gone certainly doesn’t help, either.
The film series did get off to a fairly promising start with 2014's The Maze Runner, a solid dystopian thriller with a compelling lead (Dylan O'Brien) and an impressive cast of up and coming talent (Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, among others). The follow-up, The Scorch Trials, was cobbled together and released less than a year after its predecessor debuted, however, and it showed onscreen. Despite the sequel representing a noticeable step back for the franchise, the modestly-budgeted first two entries combined to pull in over $660 million at the box office. So yeah, a third film was inevitable.
Unfortunately, it looks like The Death Cure is more Scorch Trials than Maze Runner. Though it's far from the worst threequel the Young Adult genre has ever seen (oh hey, Allegiant! Didn't see you there!), critics certainly aren't being kind to the film. It's currently under fire for its lack of originality, compelling characters, and, well, reason for existing. When you make a movie simply to finish a story and make money, you're going to get called out on it -- here are The Most Brutal Reviews For Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
The lack of tight plotting and a sprawling narrative that rarely challenges expectations leaves The Death Cure as a bloated, meandering mess that shows why the YA genre, at least in terms of dystopian futures, has died off. It doesn’t move the ball forward in a significant way, it doesn’t consistently play to its strengths, and even relies on tired plot points like a character who has special blood. Rather than carving out a space in the YA genre to call its own, The Death Cure showed that the Maze Runner series peaked in its first installment, and could never find its way to the finish line. -- Collider
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is 142 minutes that you can never get back ... There's really little point in investing more thought in this movie than the filmmakers, is there? -- San Francisco Chronicle
The bad news is that Maze Runner: The Death Cure is so bloated and runs so long that it begins to feel like two movies. Interminable dull stretches blunt the impact of undeniably exciting action sequences, making the series finale unlikely to leave even fans wanting more ... By the time the villainous scientist played by Aidan Gillen sighs in the middle of a fight scene, "OK, that's enough," you'll have long since come to share his weariness. -- THR
Now the Gladers are fighting WCKD to eradicate all the Cranks stricken with the Flare. Confused? Then stop right here. Seriously. Bye. Maze Runner: The Death Cure, the uneven and unwieldy finale to the dystopian Us-against-Them trilogy, is strictly for fans that have journeyed this far and need certain closure. -- US Magazine
And so they run. And run some more. Run for their lives. Run for much of that bloated, ah, running time. They’re captured, imprisoned, freed, pursued, recaptured and … you get the idea. They run endlessly, through tunnels and corridors and sewers. They get injured and are lugged to safety by their uninjured pals, who themselves are then injured, and the cycle repeats. Before long you find yourself wondering, “Say, didn’t I just see this?” Answer: Yes. And then you see it again. And again. I thought it would never end. -- Seattle Times
Little about The Death Cure can be considered satisfying on any level. Canyon-sized plot holes remain, salvation frequently comes out of thin air, and character motivations become matters of narrative convenience. — ReelViews
So, explain to me again why the answer to all apocalypses is to kill and torture teenagers? ... I feel if you just simply asked unaffected teens to help find a cure, maybe gave them free pizza, you could have avoided the trouble of creating a high-tech Potemkin village to stimulate their adrenal glands to secrete hormonal jamba juice. Or something. -- Original Cin
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is for diehard Maze Runner fans only. Between the extended wait, the extended length, and the characters without character, it's unlikely anybody else will have the constitution required to get the end of this maze. -- CinemaBlend
Fans of the dystopian franchise may find a satisfying conclusion to the YA trilogy among the rubble but boy, the actual acting is very poor. O’Brien as determined rebel leader Thomas is as wooden as ever and Kaya Scodelario, as turncoat rebel Teresa, nearly overdoes him in that regard ... I’ve never wanted a eugenical, post-apocalyptic totalitarian regime to crush a brigade of teen rebels so much in my life. -- RTÉ (Ireland)
It utterly fails to do anything surprising or spectacular that hadn’t already been laid out in the previous chapters. In fact, it’ll just make you cranky ... If you haven’t seen the other two films, why start now? Don’t make this your entry point. Maybe it’s best you sit this series out, full stop. -- SassyMamaInLA