Movie Review: Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Hostiles

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Check out this rundown of the newest movies from the past weekend!

‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’

While watching the latest “Maze Runner” movie, I felt a strong sense of deja-vu come over me. Had I been here before? The people, places, and things were all certainly different but something still felt familiar. In reality, what I was experiencing was a sense of fatigue with Y.A. dystopia. After the immense success of “The Hunger Games” studios became fixated on cashing in on any related source material they could find. The “Maze Runner” series has fallen somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of these movies; not nearly as good or successful as “The Hunger Games” but nowhere near as bad as the “Divergent” series.
To dive into the plot specifics would simply be a waste of time; you are either in or out with this series by this point. I personally had forgotten there was still one final installment to come; one that had been put on hold after star Dylan O’Brien was injured during filming. This series has always seemed well-made, with this third installment containing some particularly impressive action sequences, yet, the overarching story feels like every other piece of young adult dystopia. These stories usually involve a chosen-one meant to lead a rebellion against a devious government or, in this case, corporation. You’d be forgiven to mix-up any more specific plot details or characters between movies since they all seem to be interchangeable. All that is to say that the final “Maze Runner” is a passably entertaining blockbuster that fails to distinguish itself from other films in the same genre.
Rating:  ★ 1/2

‘Hostiles’

The western “Hostiles” is another film struggles to overcome the familiar beats of its own genre. The movie stars Christian Bale as a Union cavalryman tasked with safeguarding an imprisoned but ill Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) to a sacred burial ground in Montana. The only problem is these two souls have beef. They’re unresolved rivals who have performed countless atrocities as part of the endless cycle of violence between white settlers and the Native Americans. Most audience members will know how this story ends; both characters will learn to respect one another over the long and treacherous journey, with Bale’s character learning to overcome his own prejudices in the process.
The movie’s chief (pun unintended) problem is that it wants to be a western that explores the savagery inflicted upon Native Americans by white settlers but never gives any of these characters their moment in the sun. “Hostiles” is far more interested in Native Americans as ideas or thematic points rather than actual human beings. Most of our time is spent either with Bale, brutishly mumbling some variation on the “I’m a bad man who’s done bad things” speech, or with Rosamund Pike, who plays a grieving widow whose family is brutally slaughtered by outlaws in the film’s opening scene. Seeing that the movie is written and directed by Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart”, “Out of the Furnace”, “Black Mass”), you can expect a looming seriousness from start to finish. God forbid we ever stop taking this movie seriously for a single second. Those with a passion for grim, brooding westerns will likely be pleased but even the parts of this movie I admire seemed standard to the genre. As stunning as “Hostiles” is to behold, there’s nothing in this picture I haven’t seen in a dozen other John Ford westerns.
Rating:  ★ 1/2