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Movie Review

The Maze Runner

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images.

Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Sci-Fi Mystery Thriller Drama IMAX
Length:
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
2014
USA Release:
September 19, 2014 (wide—3,500+ theaters)
DVD: December 16, 2014
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

bravery, courage

Play our MAZES (in our KidExplorers section)

Teen Qs—Christian Answers® for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
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
more »
Director: Wes Ball
Producer: 20th Century Fox
Gotham Group
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.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—The main character, Thomas, put himself at great risk to help a friend. He also acted bravely and a took a stand against fear, bucking the status quo and going against peer pressure. These all show good morals, although the movie never portrays anyone looking to God for help.

In the larger scheme, the WCKD company claims to be perpetrating this cruelty on them for the good of mankind, which we know is immoral. They are rightly portrayed as unscrupulous and cruel. We’ll have to wait and see in the following sequels how that all plays out.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Grandma Beverly, age 50 (USA)
Positive—I feel the reviewer was harsh in labeling this movie “very offensive,” but agree with Grandma Beverly’s assessment of “good”. The lack of profanity and pornography was refreshing; and there was a strong thread of morality throughout. The acting, cinematography, dialogue and budget were very good; and I only rated it at 3½ because the script left many strange things unexplained, giving it an illogical feel at times.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Brian Schacht, age 67 (Canada)
Positive—Me and my wife really enjoyed this movie! It was suspenseful and the action was entertaining. Surprisingly, we also thought that there were many moral indicators about it. The young people all worked together to keep their community in order, even imposing rules and enforcing them for the the sake of all. Also, for the most part, they worked together to combat the evil force that kept them prisoners. We found nothing to be offensive here. The creatures which they were combating, weren’t any worse then those depicted in “The Lord of the Rings.” Fun movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Oscar, age 54 (USA)
Negative
Negative—Unfortunately, the average Christian movie viewer may see this film as having redeeming elements. This kind of reasoning is strictly unbiblical (Galatians 5:20—enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions) and to be completely avoided (I John 1:5-10).

For those who are not confused about mixing evil with good and saying the result is equal to something basically good, this movie can’t be defended because there is no swearing and nothing sexual. The reason is there is too much violence and the exaltation of self, what people today call attitude, which is often revered. The real name for this trait is of course disobedience.

Also, the entire premise of the storyline is that people are unknowingly forced into life-and-death decisions and then die but that this is defensible and necessary to the plot. The opposite is true (Philippians 4:6-9), we are to pursue good and hate evil ideas and instead should find godly solutions to problems by leaning totally on God ESPECIALLY when we don’t see a way out.

We are not to rely on our own thoughts especially when they rationalize some amount of evil as necessary. There is too much carnage and death in this movie along with a huge dose of self-reliance. It has it’s predictable result which is the gruesome deaths of many characters. This is obviously a movie that is meant to continue like “The Hunger Games” or the Twilight Saga franchises.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Robert Maclean, age 65 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed. The whole time I was like, “OH MY GOODNESS; OH MY GOODNESS!!!” It has so much on the edge of your seat action. Now I want to read the book. (I did want to read it before. I am huge reader nerd.) It was an amazing movie. I loved it. It totally left you wanting more.

There was a huge cliff hanger. It was bit scary.

I would not recommend it for anyone under 13. I was even scared at some parts. It really makes you think. A line that stuck in my head from the movies is wicked is good. I would definitely recommend this to other teens. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Lorrayya, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I waited 2 years for this movie, and, I have to say, I really enjoyed it! I read all of the books a while ago, so I understood everything about it, and the cool thing was it went along pretty well with the book! It did leave out some details that I wish had been added in, but, overall, the movie was really good!

I don’t recommend it to kids under 13, though, because there are a few scenes that might be a little too much for them. But, yeah, the director did a really good job!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Ali, age 15 (USA)

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