A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This is a story about teamwork, friendship, courage, and identity. The teens may not know their past, but they work together toward a better future.
Positive Role Models
Thomas, Newt, Minho, and the rest of the surviving Gladers are courageous, intelligent, and willing to make sacrifices to defend and protect one another. Brenda is a strong female character who isn't afraid to defend herself or her friends. Jorge seems selfish and morally ambiguous at first, but he saves the day when the chips are down.
Violence & Scariness
The survivors face new enemies who use guns and tasers to subdue them. There's a high body count; people die or are injured as the result of shoot-outs (one person is brutally murdered at close range), explosions, and, in one case, a self-inflicted wound. The person who commits suicide does so off camera (the shot is heard but not seen), because they're succumbing to a deadly virus. A man is beaten so severely that his eye is bulged shut; he's bleeding and bruised. Characters are tortured (tied from their ankles and hung upside down). Gruesome, zombie-like creatures eat a rat, pursue anyone in their vicinity, and bite a couple of characters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A character turns another character's head away from watching someone who's changing clothes (viewers only see her arms in the air as she adds a layer). At a club, teens and young adults dance close together, and two slightly inebriated teens kiss.
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Occasional strong language includes "s--t," "son of a bitch," "bastard," "dumbass," "damn," "what the hell," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), and "oh my God!" Also, one use of the middle finger gesture.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one scene, two teens are forced to drink an Absinthe-looking liquor at a club where everyone is drinking; the drink makes them woozy and uninhibited. Young characters are injected a couple of times but are told it's just a "vitamin cocktail."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second movie in the Maze Runner trilogy. Based on James Dashner's best-selling dystopian young adult novel, the film should attract teens (and adults) who are familiar with book series, as well as fans of star Dylan O'Brien (MTV's Teen Wolf). As in the first film, violence is the main issue, with characters being chased, shot at, bitten by gruesome zombie-like creatures, and more. There's a high body count as the result of shoot-outs, explosions, and even a self-inflicted wound (the suicide happens off screen, but the shot is heard). This installment has more strong language (less "shank" and more "s--t," "son of a bitch," "dumbass," etc.) than the previous movie, and there's also slightly more romance -- two characters even kiss (they're slightly drunk at the time) -- though it's not as prominent here as in the Divergent or The Hunger Games movies. Like the first movie, themes here include friendship, courage, and teamwork. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As Thomas, O'Brien is once again charming and determined in this faithful, action-packed sequel to The Maze Runner. The plot and character development aren't quite as compelling as they were in the first movie (the set up of waking up and having no idea why you're stuck somewhere is usually inherently fascinating), but that's to be expected of a story where the main characters are mostly on the run. There isn't much time in between fighting off men with guns and zombie-like Cranks to explore the inner workings of how these characters are feeling. But there are a couple of sweet contemplative conversations between Thomas and his crew, as well as between Thomas and his new friend, Brenda, ably played by Salazar as a brave girl who's a good shot but is also vulnerable.
Unfortunately, with the introduction of new characters like Rosa and Jorge, there isn't as much focus on fan favorites Newt and Minho, and poor Theresa is reduced to a stereotype of the sad girl with secrets. Although the pulse-quickening action sequences are still well executed (and, in a couple of cases, downright anxiety-provoking), it's really the characters that made the first movie so enjoyable, and while this interim installment provides just enough intrigue and twists to make fans happy, it also starts to seem a bit too much like every other teen dystopian movie. Even the tension between Thomas and the ruthless WCKD chancellor, played with icy gusto by Patricia Clarkson, feels straight out of the Katniss-vs.-President Snow or Tris-vs.-Jeanine Matthews playbook.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.