Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
Play our MAZES (in our KidExplorers section)
|Featuring:||Dylan O'Brien … Thomas
Aml Ameen … Alby
Ki Hong Lee … Minho
Blake Cooper … Chuck
Thomas Brodie-Sangster … Newt
Will Poulter … Gally
Dexter Darden … Frypan
Kaya Scodelario … Teresa
Chris Sheffield … Ben
|Producer:||20th Century Fox
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
Sequel: “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” (2015)
“Maze Runner” is the latest in a long line of Young Adult Fiction novels being converted into big screen adaptations. Without the expense of a big Hollywood star and the following of the books, Hollywood can make relatively low budget films and still yield big budget returns. Of course, this is not B-movie, and its budget reflects that. “The Maze Runner” is a suspenseful film that will appeal to its target audience, but it is also a film which touches upon much much more. I say “touches” because its true message is never fully explored in the film.
In “The Maze Runner,” teenage boys appear with no memory of the past. They find themselves in a plush Glade with only one escape, a giant maze which holds deadly creatures, called “Grievers,” who kill all who venture into the maze. When a new boy appears and begins to question the “rules” which were created to protect the citizens of the Glade, things begin to change. Is there a way out of the Glade? What is the reason that they were all placed in the Glade? What is their purpose?
Sometimes when a book is translated into a movie a lot is lost in translation. “The Maze Runner” is a fine film, but I fear that the book contains much allegory and messages which were lost in this adaptation. Without having read the book, I can only speculate, but “The Maze Runner” is filled with subtleties lost in celluloid. The most obvious is that “The Maze Runner” is ***SPOILER*** about humans who are really test subjects in a giant maze, like mice in an experiment. ***END SPOILER*** Of course, you probably knew that from watching the trailers. This very issue stirs up many questions.
Characters from the film ponder if they are really in control of their lives or if someone else is controlling things. Are things “meant to be?” To what extent do we have control in our lives. It also explores issues in the human race, such as complacency, fear of change, and apathy. Some people have become so used to the way things are in the “Glade” (the plush land to which the children are trapped) that they no longer truly wish to escape. Subconsciously, and even consciously, they don’t want to leave, for they are more afraid of the unknown and of change than of the horrors they have grown accustomed to.
In terms of parental guidance, it is clear that this film is targeted to teens, not children. The film is far to intense and violent for young children. In fact, this film would surely have been rated R for some violent scenes in years past. The most obvious is the scene of a dead Griever whose body appears like road kill. One of the boys even picks up its organs to pull a piece of equipment out (the creatures are half animal and half machine). Other scenes of violence, including some blood, are prevalent, but the goriest parts involve the Maze creatures.
There is no sex in the film, as there is only one woman in the entire film. Her part doubtless expands in the sequels, but in this film there is no romance to be had. It is therefore likely to appeal to young men more than young women. Language is also minimal, with cuss words being “shank,” “G*d-d*mn” (2), OMG (1), hell (8), damn (2), s-words, *ss (2), and SOB (1).
One other issue which appears in the film is never resolved (setting it up for a sequel), but it involves the phrase “wicked is good” which is often repeated, and appears in the dreams of the hero. I cannot reveal much more without at least a minor spoiler, but it does appear that the film’s characters are “gray” rather than reflecting truly good and evil. Such is the result of human sin. The viewer may take this as he chooses, for the plot is not resolved at the end of the film.
“The Maze Runner” is a film which will appeal to fans of suspense and mild horror. It is also a science fiction film with many analogies and subcontext themes which never fully emerge in the film. It can certainly bring up important topics such as a predestination and free will, as well as our desire to accept the familiar and becoming too comfortable with what we have known our whole lives. Jesus does not ask us not to question our world or surroundings, but to trust that there is an answer whether we know it or not. Faith is about trust, not ignorance. Jesus wants us to seek answers, but those answers are to be found in Him. Of course, these words are no where to be found in the film, but context makes them appropriate topics for teenage kids who will see the movie.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.