Parents' Guide to

The Maze Runner

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Dystopian tale offers high-stakes action, mystery for teens.

Movie PG-13 2014 113 minutes
The Maze Runner Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 38 parent reviews

age 18+

Very violent and involving gang killing of a boy

So, this is supposed to be based on the book, one of my son’s favourites, but it is far too violent for its PG rating. In one scene the boys gang up to push another boy, who is screaming and begging for mercy, to his death in the maze, even though he is on his knees and crying in a very humiliated way, and which they ignore (it supposed to be for the best but this in itself undermines all of the other apparent “positive messages” in my view and is not suitable for children of the same age or younger to see). There is also machine killing of the boys and medical experimentation on children by adults implied. I mean, really, tho the actors are kids, how is this a kids’ movie? No way I would let my 11 yo watch this, not least because it would probably ruin the book for him it is so dark in how the themes and events are depicted in this horrible Hollywood version that in my view is more R than PG, and it is definitely horror.
age 18+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (38 ):
Kids say (253 ):

As adaptations go, this one is quite faithful to the book, which should please its loyal readers. But those who haven't read the book may be dissatisfied with the lack of fully developed characters and overly compressed pacing. The story's types and tropes will seem familiar to anyone who's seen other YA-based dystopian movies: the super-precocious protagonist who can do exceptional things (in this case, accomplish in three or four days what the rest of the guys couldn't in two or three years); the sense that the adolescents are pawns of cruel, unfeeling adults; the violence that leaves teens dead; and the idea that no one really knows what's going on. Unlike Divergent and Hunger Games, which explain what happened to the post-apocalyptic society from the start, The Maze Runner is more of a pin-hole mystery -- you find out little by little what's actually happening until the very end, and even then, it's just a primer for a second installment.

O'Brien has always been a standout actor (he routinely steals the show on Teen Wolf). Here he's good at the connections with the other guys, all of whom are played well by the cast of young actors -- particularly head runner Minho (Ki Hong Lee), leader Alby (Aml Ameen), second-in-command Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and the youngest of the Gladers, chubby and charming Chuck (Blake Cooper). The problem is that there's not much depth to the many supporting characters because the movie focuses solely on Thomas, whom the audience doesn't know (he doesn't know himself) but still has to root for, since he's the only one willing to break rules to get out of the Glade. Then there's Scodelario, a nuanced young actress (Wuthering Heights) who's wasted on the tiny role of Teresa, the only girl ever to be sent to the Glade (this isn't Peeta and Katniss or Tris and Four). The action sequences are genuinely heart-pumping (and violent), but the overall story falls a bit flat once it's clear that the Lord of the Flies aspect is secondary to the mystery of who or why these boys are in this horrible prison. Those hoping for a satisfying solution will have to keep their fingers crossed that a second movie will be made ... or just resign themselves to the fact that some of these first books work as standalone stories, and some have to be experienced in their entirety to make sense.

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