Soundtrack Review: Maze Runner-The Death Cure (2018)

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a 2018 American dystopian science fiction film based on the third novel in the Maze Runner trilogy written by James Dashner. It was originally meant to be released in 2017 but had to be delayed when series star Dylan O’Brien suffered injuries while filming and required extensive time to recover. In The Death Cure, the surviving “Gladers” must infiltrate WCKD headquarters in order to rescue their friend Minho who is being tortured by WCKD in hopes of developing a cure for the Flare virus that has turned most of the population into “Cranks” (zombie-like beings that have an overwhelming urge to kill anyone who isn’t a Crank). The film and soundtrack released on January 26th, 2018.

The score for The Death Cure was composed by John Paesano, a composer with a lengthy list of film credits to his name. Paesano received an Annie Award for Best Music for his work on DreamWorks’ animated series Dragons: Riders of Berk, which is based on the Academy Award® winning film How To Train Your Dragon. He won a World Soundtrack Award for his score to the hugely successful young adult adaptation, The Maze Runner.

He has now completed the trilogy, which includes The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. His other credits include Universal Picture’s Almost Christmas and Sony Animation’s The Star. He’s currently scoring both Marvel’s hit series Daredevil and Defenders. Forthcoming in 2018 is Spider-Man PS4, which will be released featuring John’s huge orchestral score.

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Listening to Maze Runner: The Death Cure was a refreshing change of pace compared to the other science fiction works I’ve been listening to as of late (i.e. Annihilation and Altered Carbon). Unlike those works, The Death Cure’s score uses a more traditional orchestra, mostly strings, though there is a healthy dose of synthesizer used as well (in the 21st century, it’s next-to-impossible to find a film score that doesn’t use synthesized music at some point).

Two tracks that stood out to me were “The Virus” and “The Last City.” With “The Virus,” it was very interesting, given the track’s title, how it actually sounded. I was expecting to hear something sinister and dark, but it actually sounded very pleasant. With layered orchestral chords and synthetic drones, the music is actually rather serene at times, which makes me wonder what part of the film this music is attached to with a title like “The Virus.” I really do enjoy listening to this track, it’s simple and direct and hopefully gets its point across in the film.

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“The Last City” can only be referring to the city that holds WCKD headquarters (and is presumed to be the last functioning city of its kind on Earth). Appropriately enough, given the post-apocalyptic setting, the music for this track is sad, with a mournful horn melody accompanied by strings. I have to imagine that even for those living inside the city things must seem completely hopeless, given how close humanity is to extinction, no wonder the music is so sad. I like how Paesano has written this piece, especially how the strings swell up with a theme of their own and weave in and out with the horn. Like “The Virus,” this track is relatively simple but effective.

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And those are my thoughts on the soundtrack of Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Reviews of the film have been mixed, but I think Paesano’s soundtrack is good, and I hope you enjoy listening to it. My thanks to The Krakower Group for making this soundtrack available for review. The soundtrack is available via Sony Classical.

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