The Maze Runner parents guide

The Maze Runner Parent Review

When it comes to an action drama for older teens, "The Maze Runner" has a lot to offer.

Overall B-

Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) has no memory of who he was before he arrived in a compound surrounded by a maze. But the future for himself, and the other boys also trapped there, seems to depend on them figuring out how to navigate the labyrinth.

Violence D+
Sexual Content A
Profanity C
Substance Use C

The Maze Runner is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images.

Movie Review

There seems to be a glut of teen movies right now where kids become pawns in the hands of adults—often for the elder persons’ own nefarious purposes. Over the past year (2014), we’ve seen the story played out over and over again in Divergent, Ender’s Game and The Giver. Now The Maze Runner follows suit.

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In this story, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up to find himself hurtling upward in an elevator shaft. When the metal cage he is in lurches to a stop, he is pulled out by a group of boys and thrown into a large grassy compound. The Glade, as it is called, is surrounded by a massive maze made of huge cement walls. For the past three years a newcomer has arrived in the elevator every 30 days, along with fresh supplies. Over that time the youth have learned to farm, build homes, and make an alcoholic substitute. They have also developed a kind of hierarchal society. While these efforts have worked better for them than the Lord of the Flies characters, their peace is still tenuous.

Inside the Glade, each person has a job to do. The most dangerous one is that assigned to the runners, who enter the maze every morning as soon as the huge gate opens to reveal the ever-changing labyrinth. Their objective is to find a way to escape. Yet they have to be home before dark when the gate closes and the grievers (large mechanical looking spiders) come out. Anyone left in the maze overnight doesn’t survive.

For the most part, Alby, Minho, Newt, Chuck, Gally (Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Blake Cooper and Will Poulter) and the others have settled into a routine of just trying to survive inside the enclosure. But Thomas wants out. Then one evening, while trying to help Minho rescue Alby, the three teens get caught in the maze after the gates close. That night, during a terrifying encounter with one of the grievers, they stumble upon a valuable clue about who may have put them inside the formidable structure.

This origin movie spends a lot of time introducing characters—including the girl (Kaya Scodelario) who shows up in the elevator one day. Flashbacks also give viewers some hints of a back-story. So it is no surprise that by the time the movie ends there are still lots of unanswered questions… along with an obvious plug for a sequel.

Violence of course is the biggest concern in this movie, with some bloody and even graphic depictions of fatal injuries, deadly creature attacks, murdered victims and an apparent suicide. Maintaining order inside the Glade also involves some fistfights and imprisonment. As well, the script includes a couple dozen profanities and some crude name-calling. Still when it comes to an action drama for older teens, The Maze Runner has a lot to offer. Driven by curiosity, Thomas refuses to accept his fate. Rather he encourages the rest of the group to join him in his quest. And like so many of the other teen characters we’ve seen in theaters lately, these ingenious kids refuse to stay put once they realize they’ve been played.

Directed by Wes Ball. Starring Dylan O'Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter. Running time: 113 minutes. Theatrical release September 19, 2014. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Maze Runner here.

The Maze Runner Parents Guide

Why is it so important for the boys to remember their names, even if they can’t recall anything else about their past? How does our name contribute to our identity?

The boys in the Glade have three simple rules: do your part, never harm another boy, don’t go beyond the wall. Do you agree with these rules? How do these rules contribute to the success of their society? Although Thomas is punished for breaking the last rule, how does his decision to go exploring ultimately help the group?

Children are used as test subjects in this story. Do you think this is ethical? How do you feel about using animals for testing? Would you agree with human testing for medical procedures or medications?

This movie is based on a series of novels, starting with The Maze Runner by James Dashnerby.

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