Australian Council on Children and the Media

Maze Runner

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Short takes

Not recommended under 15 due to violent and disturbing scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Maze Runner
  • a review of Maze Runner completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 September 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violent and disturbing scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Maze Runner
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence, science fiction themes and sustained threat.
Length 113 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Maze Runner is a science fiction film based on the young adult novel of the same name by James Dashner. The film follows a sixteen-year-old boy named Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) as he wakes up in a rusty lift, able to remember only his name. He soon learns that he has been delivered into what is called ‘The Glade” - the centre of an intricate maze which is inhabited by a group of approximately sixty other teenage boys.  They have been forced to learn to survive in an entirely enclosed environment, using their own agriculture and supplies to get by. Every thirty days, a new boy arrives. During their time in the maze, the boys are frequently attacked and plagued by Grievers, horrifying mechanical creatures that bite and eat humans. One bite from a Griever ensures that a boy turns into a violent, zombie-like creature that attempts to attack the others.

Since the original group of boys were delivered into the Glade two years ago, they have been trying to discover a way out of their surroundings, but have been gradually losing hope. However, after a girl arrives with a mysterious note, the world within the Glade begins to change.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Totalitarian authority; rebellion, independence and self-sufficiency; friendship and family.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is considerable violence in the film, some of it intense and disturbing. It includes:

  • A woman shoots herself by holding a pistol to her head and firing it. We see her dead body later
  • Many individuals are attacked and bitten by scary-looking vicious creatures known as ‘Grievers’ – after they bite a human, the human becomes violent and slowly goes insane (after which they attack their peers). Some of the Grievers eat the humans as opposed to merely biting them.
  • A young boy is stabbed, and is seen impaled with a large sword-like weapon.
  • Individuals are threatened and put into prisons if they disobey authority.
  • Several young boys fight each other for entertainment.
  • Many handmade weapons are used within fights – these include things such as sticks, stones and knives. Injuries and bloody wounds are shown on screen.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

The entire film is too scary for children of this age. In addition to the violence described above, young children are particularly likely to be disturbed by the Grievers which are vicious giant robot like insects. When characters in the film are attacked and bitten by Grievers, they become violent towards their peers and are viewed as insane and zombie-like. Images of a Griever which has been crushed in the maze are also disturbing.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

The film is also too scary for children of this age. Children in this age group are also likely to be particularly disturbed by the Grievers and the scenes described above

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes and by the following:

  • Individuals are put into a trance where they are instructed to hold onto internal pain and to not express it – the trances cause pain to the person experiencing them.
  • After one boy is bitten by a Griever, he is exiled and banished to die in the maze in an emotional and upsetting scene.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

  • A group of boys drink a mysterious homemade liquid that resembles alcohol in its effect.
  • A boy is injected with a blue-coloured serum.

Coarse language

The film contains coarse language and name calling such as ‘shit’, ‘asshole’, ‘son-of-a-bitch’, ‘bastard’.

In a nutshell

The Maze Runner is a film that speaks about the strength of the human spirit, and the determination of individuals to overcome totalitarian oppression. It offers viewers a great deal to think about in regard to basic survival, as well as the nature of leadership and difficulties of making tough decisions for the greater good of a community. The movie also highlights the strength of friendship and its power in helping to overcome obstacles, in addition to the foundation of trust, collaboration and respect that underlies the best relationships.

The film deserves its M rating. It is very suspenseful throughout and includes some intensely violent and disturbing scenes, including a suicide and the violent deaths of teenagers. It is therefore not recommended for children under 15.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Knowing when to stand up against authority and ensure that your voice is heard.
  • Being prepared to talk about doubts and question the opinions of others.

 

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