For a movie with ‘Death’ in its title, the third and final chapter in ‘The Maze Runner’ series doesn’t know when to end

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When “The Maze Runner” opened in 2014, Hollywood was still in the midst of a teen lit boom: while the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” films had recently wrapped, the “Hunger Games” franchise was in in full swing and “Divergent” had opened big a few months earlier.

My how times have changed. The “Hunger Games” films wrapped in 2015 with diminishing returns for the last two entries, the “Divergent” series derailed after the third chapter and “The 5th Wave,” which attempted to jumpstart a new teen franchise, stalled out at the gate.

Now comes “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” which seems like a last gasp in more ways than one. Coming two and a half years after the series’ last entry, “The Scorch Trials,” it’s a strain to remember which war these teens are waging. (It has to do with a plague wiping out the human race, teens who hold the cure and zombies.)

The action, stars and plotting feel like generic, fourth-tier iterations of an idea; if “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” are the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC and 98 Degrees, “The Maze Runner” is LFO. And the movie doesn’t know when to end: “Lord of the Rings”-style, it piles on roughly 88 endings, and its nearly two-and-a-half hour running time will be trying for anyone who doesn’t have a Dylan O’Brien poster on the wall in their bedroom.

O’Brien is Thomas, the leader of the teen resistance trying to survive in a future dystopia and, well, you get it. Wes Ball, who also directed the series’ previous two entries, gives the film a self-serious tone that adds an extra layer of laboriousness to the proceedings. Teen lit will be back, but “The Death Cure” is lost in a maze of its own design.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’

GRADE: C-

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, and some thematic elements

Running time: 143 minutes

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