Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Parent Review

Interesting themes make "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" an interesting discussion starter for parents and older teens -- and the resulting chat could be just as entertaining as the movie.

Overall B-

Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) feels like he has only left the frying pan to have to face the fire when his escape from the maze only puts him in a position to try and navigate another hostile environment: The Scorch.

Violence D+
Sexual Content A
Profanity C
Substance Use C

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence and action, some thematic elements, substance use and language.

Movie Review

“Time to begin Phase 2.”

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The Gladers have escaped the Maze and now they are in a helicopter waiting for the credits to finish rolling and the next movie to begin. (Yes, those of you who have read the books are way ahead of me.) With the opening of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, those who survived the first test are briskly moved into an enormous facility, the headquarters of WCKD (pronounced “wicked”) and are “greeted” by Janson (Aidan Gillen). Compared to The Glade, life here is relatively good with tasty food and a real bed to sleep on. But Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) can’t help wondering why they are here and what’s happening to the select few who are called upon each day to go somewhere special. When one of those chosen is Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the only female from The Glade, Thomas is determined to discover the truth.

Making the acquaintance of Aris (Jacob Lofland), Thomas is introduced to a new mode of travel through the research fortress using the ventilation system. (Frankly anyone hoping to keep people confined really needs to rethink the size of the containment center’s air ducts.) Peering through the grate they watch people on covered gurneys being rolled into a mysterious area. Stealing the security badge of an employee, Thomas and Aris finally discover what’s going on. Needless to say, the grass isn’t greener on the other side of The Maze.

After a violent escape, the group consisting of Thomas, Aris, Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Winston (Alexander Flores) find themselves in a destroyed city where they bunker down in what appears to be an abandoned shopping mall. Soon they discover they are not alone. Surrounded by an unfriendly population of humanoids with missing eyes and bad dental work, the runaways are compelled to flee again. This time the desperate band heads for the hills where, rumor has it, they can find protection from an organization called The Right Arm.

Another solidly crafted film, this sequel presents similar content concerns to the first adventure. Fighting for their lives, the Glader gang takes on various enemies, including zombie-like creatures. Characters are killed (sometimes shot on screen with the bullet impact out of frame), and blood effects are frequent. As well, the screenplay features “jump moments” similar to what you would expect in a horror film. Fortunately profanity use is relatively light, with only a handful of scatological slang, mild expletives and a term of Christian deity. Substance abuse is limited to one scene where young people are told to take a swig from a bottle that looks like alcohol: The drink causes them to hallucinate while attending what appears to be a party.

The real conflict the adolescents face in this story is trying to determine whom they can trust, while at the same time wrestling with the concept of sacrificing themselves to save the world. These themes may make Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials an interesting discussion starter for parents and older teens—and the resulting chat could be just as entertaining as the movie.

Directed by Wes Ball. Starring Dylan O'Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee. Running time: 132 minutes. Theatrical release September 18, 2015. Updated

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

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Parents Guide

As this story unfolds, the young characters learn that they have something that might save the human race—but giving it could mean the loss of their lives. Would you be willing to die for someone else? What things would you be willing to sacrifice for the greater good? What are our responsibilities to help others?

Are all older adults in this movie “wicked”? What advantages does age bring to a situation? What are the advantages of being young?

This movie is based on a series of novels, by James Dashnerby.

From the Studio:
In this next chapter of the epic “Maze Runner” saga, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers face their greatest challenge yet: searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and uncover its shocking plans for them all. © Fox

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