Blu-ray Review: Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Every 'maze' has an end, so says the tagline. And this one is a fan-pleaser.

By , Contributor
The third and final chapter of the Maze Runner series finally arrived in theaters at the start of 2018. The Death Cure, originally planned as a two-part finale (a la the Twilight, Hunger Games, and Divergent series—sadly, the strategy didn't exactly pay off for the latter), is actually more exciting than 2015's Scorch Trials. Star Dylan O'Brien, the center of the saga as Thomas, sustained serious injuries during production that called the movie's future into question. That explains the delayed release, but luckily the disjointed production doesn't appear to negatively impacted the finished product.

As per usual with Maze Runner movies, Death Cure cleaned up overseas. But it didn't really sink in with U.S. audiences. Perhaps for moviegoers overloaded by recent Y.A. projects, this latest adaptation of James Dashner's series of novels fell through the cracks. It also took knocks from critics, but Death Cure is considerably better than its middling 42% "Fresh" rating would suggest. In fact, despite being bit overlong at 142 minutes, this is a rousing finale that should be quite satisfying for fans. Now that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has issued it on Blu-ray, it's high time to catch up with Thomas, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and the rest of the gang.

Director Wes Ball, who has been helming the series since the start, kicks things off with a fantastic, slam-bang action sequence as "Gladers" Thomas, Newt, and Frypan (Dexter Darden) stage a daring rescue of young "Immunes" from a train (remember: in this post-apocalyptic world, the Flare virus has eradicated most of the population). Evil corporation WCKD, led by Janson (Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillan, having an apparent blast here), has been rounding up those immune to the Flare for medical research purposes. When resistance member Minho (Ki Hong Lee) doesn't turn up in the rescue mission, Thomas and company strike out on their own to locate him—and resistance leader Vince (Barry Pepper) is none too pleased.

If you're lost, you must not have seen the previous two films. But even if you're well-versed in the Right Arm's efforts to defeat Janson and WCKD—not to mention make a life-saving vaccine against the Flare available to all—Death Cure very likely flew under your radar. It's $58 million domestic gross attests to that. So it cannot be emphasized enough that director Wes Ball, screenwriter T.S. Nowlin, and the cast (can't reveal all the returnees without getting into spoiler territory, though series newcomer Walt Goggins is superb as rebellion leader Lawrence) have done everything right. And although the climax goes on too long, the action set pieces are consistently exciting (the one involving a kid-packed bus dangling from a chain is a particular doozy).

Fans will be happy to find the Blu-ray loaded up with a ton of special features. Most of these are Blu-ray exclusives, though the audio commentary by director Ball, writer Nowlin, and producer Joe Hartwick, Jr. is also on standard DVD. All three also provide optional commentary for a selection of deleted and extended scenes. "Unlocking the Cure" is a quartet of featurettes: "The Final Run," "Dystopia: The Complete World," "Allies Reunited," and "A Look Back: The Director's Journey."

There's also a gag reel, "Visual Effects Breakdown" and "Visual Effects Reel" (also with optional commentary). The aforementioned opening train sequence is examined in "Going Out On Top." A still gallery contains hundreds of images (serious question: does anything look at those?). Inside the case there's a 24-page Origins comic book, too.

The Maze Runner series isn't a classic for the ages, by any means. But for those who liked the first two films, The Death Cure is a solidly-made climactic closer.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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