Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Movie Poster Image
Dystopian sequel has lots of thrills, violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 131 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 35 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 91 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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.

Consumerism
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."

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byLisastew98 September 20, 2015

Much more violent and terrifying than 1st Maze Runner

Wow this movie was intense, very dark and violent through the entire movie. The cranks were terrifying and there were several jump scares. Very high body count... Continue reading
Parent Written byxtwheeler September 29, 2015

Horribly Violent Yet Still Boring

I have a precocious 11 year old daughterdaughter, who is a voracious reader and who has seen plenty of PG-13 movies (always with our supervision so we can talk... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJabb3rjay September 20, 2015

Disappointed

I really enjoyed the Maze Runner! I Was very excited for the scorch trials. I went to see the movie with my mom and it scared the crap out of me! We walked out... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDisneymovielover77 September 18, 2015

Great Suspenseful sequel

This movie is more violent than the first movie and there are plenty of intense scenes involving zombie like figures and these scenes are WAY more violent than... Continue reading

What's the story?

MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS picks up shortly after the end of its predecessor, The Maze Runner: Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), Theresa (Kaya Scodelario), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), and the other surviving members of the Glade end up under the protection of Jansen (Aidan Gillen), who promises them they're safe from WCKD -- the organization that held them captive in the Maze. The kids meet teens from other Mazes; with the help of a new friend, Arris (Jacob Lofland), they discover things aren't what they seem, so they escape from Janson's control. Back on the run, they team up with rogue community leader Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and his courageous teen charge Brenda (Rosa Salazar) to find the mysterious "Right Arm," an underground resistance group that allegedly saves immune kids and deposits them in a safe zone.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of violent dystopian stories aimed at teenagers. What impact does the violence have in the story? Is it different to see violence rather than to read about it? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?

  • This story doesn't have too many girls and women in it. How do you think the various female characters are portrayed? Would you consider them role models?

  • Fans of the book: Was the movie a faithful adaptation? What differences did you like, and which scenes from the book did you miss?

  • Which characters are role models? What character strengths do they demonstrate?

Movie details

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