With the recent release of the third and final film instalment of the Maze Runner Trilogy, The Death Cure, adapted by director Wes Ball and based on the popular novels written by James Dashner, a window of opportunity to review the trilogy has been opened and it’s a whirlwind of mixed opinions.
By the time of the release of the first film, The Maze Runner, a wave of dystopian films had already hit the big screen. Although some may feel underwhelmed with The Maze Runner as an addition to the increasingly crowded genre, especially compared to their hard-hitting predecessors, such as The Hunger Games or Divergent, I believe each film of the trilogy brings something new and delivers an action-packed, thrilling story with characters who always leave you wanting more.
At the beginning of the franchise, Thomas, portrayed by Dylan O’Brien, wakes up in The Glade, which he discovers is at the centre of a labyrinth (or maze). He has no memory of how he got there. O’Brien does a fantastic job of portraying the uncertainty both the character and the audience feel. The films progress through Thomas’ actions and in such a fast-paced film series, Dylan O’Brien’s performance as this character never falters. He was even known to have performed some of his own stunts which were flawlessly executed and effortlessly translated on to the screen.
This is not a film in which the supporting cast is overshadowed by the main cast. Everyone seems to be able to retain their presence in the films. You’d be forgiven for thinking that having Dylan O’Brien from Teen Wolf or Thomas Brodie-Sangster from Game of Thrones could tear the focus on others away. However, I think the supporting cast in these films put their own little swing on their characters which leaves an everlasting impression. A very strong friendship is presented through these characters, so having a cast that can represent this with minimal effort is incredible.
The visual depiction of the creatures in these films is very interesting. Translating the description of these creatures from the novels to the films is very challenging and the visual effects team on The Maze Runner franchise certainly let their imaginations run wild with the representation of the various monstrous characters. For example, in the second instalment, Scorch Trials, Thomas encounters a Crank (a human zombified by the Flare virus). The attention to detail that is required in visually creating a character that retains human-like features whilst enhancing them with zombie tendencies and traits, is remarkable.
Nobody can deny that the films are filled with entertaining and intense scenes. The mixture of drama and intensity is always present; the characters are constantly seeking a safer place which leads to them always running away or towards something. As the franchise progresses, so does the immensity of the action scenes. Who else can remember the extremely energetic escape scene in Scorch Trials?
Admittedly, there are some obvious discontinuities in the storylines on certain occasions but they should not tarnish the great performances from the actors and the build-up of the story throughout the franchise. Despite being a later addition to an already vast film genre, I still feel that The Maze Runner brings a unique experience to the big screen. Many will claim that the era of dystopian films is over, however, I would say that I am glad The Maze Runner was a product of that era.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018), directed by Wes Ball, is distributed in the UK by 20th Century Fox, certificate 12a.