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Maze Runner: The Death Cure

At Cinemark

(PG-13)

Grade: C-

The latest installment in the fizzling “Maze Runner” franchise boasts a powerful ending that might be missed by moviegoers who fall asleep long before then – or who leave early.

The latest installment is the least a-Maze-ing in the series. Thankfully, the tale is now over. Godspeed.

Once upon a while ago, “Maze Runner” started with an intriguing premise. Some boys stumbled on a concrete Alamo hidden deep in a forest. Every day a door to the Maze opened – but no one who entered ever came back.

That set the stage for a collection of young adventurers to dare to enter the Maze. Away they go into a dungeon of danger.

That first film wasn’t particularly good, but it did spin a story with thought-provoking possibilities.

Alas, after two films, the third installment has descended into nothing much more than people running for their lives – without giving us much reason to care if they escape safely or not.

Per normal, this sequel depends heavily on having seen the other films.

Rarely does the action slow down long enough for us to care about a character. Their only hope is that we already loved them from the prior “Maze” films.

The human power comes almost exclusively from the female characters who do their best to make us care. But there’s too much macho mayhem for the ladies to save the script.

For maze muggles, here’s the gist of what this story is about: The Flare virus is killing off civilization, but some immune kids are trying to save the planet.

There are even zombie-esque subplots! People who catch the virus – Cranks - aren’t the ones you join for a meal. The Cranks, like Hannibal the Cannibal, would enjoy having you over for dinner.

In the midst of all this chaos roam an assortment of young folk that we occasionally care about.

But by the time we reach the final chapter, we don’t care all that much anymore.

For the record, the villain is a corporation known as “World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department.” Yes, that’s right, “WICKED.”

We get it, Twentieth Century Fox! The villains are WICKED. Profound.

I had some hope for this series when it appeared in 2014, but like Uncle Buck, this guest stayed too long and wore out its welcome.

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