Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

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Short takes

Not suitable for children under 13 and not recommended under 15 (Themes; Violence; Scary and disturbing scenes and characters)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
  • a review of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 September 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to themes, violence and scary and disturbing scenes and characters.
Children 13 to 15 Not recommended due to themes, violence and scary and disturbing scenes and characters.

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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence, science fiction themes and sustained threat
Length: 132 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

After surviving the ordeals of the maze (as seen in the first Maze Runner film) Thomas (Dylan O’Brian), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Newet (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) believe themselves to be safe within the walls of WCKD (“Wicked”) headquarters. However, their belief is shattered when Thomas and his new friend Aris (Jacob Lofland) discover that WCKD is experimenting on the young. WCKD is killing young people in a bid to develop a cure for the deadly disease called the “Flare” which has decimated most of the world’s population, turning those it infects into mutant zombies.

After learning of WCKD’s sinister plans, Thomas and his friends manage to escape the WCKD compound and head off across the scorched wastelands towards the mountains where they believe a resistance group known as “The Right Hand” is held up. After fighting off mutant humans and WCKD troupes lead by the vindictive Janson (Aiden Gillen), Thomas and Co are befriended by a man named Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and a girl called Brenda (Rosa Salazar), who claim they can lead them to the hiding place of the Right Hand. Unfortunately betrayal leads to WCKD finding Thomas and his friends, with the story being set to conclude in the next Maze Runner film.


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.

Human experimentation; destruction of civilisation; mutants; rebellion

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.

The film contains extended sequences of violence, with a multitude of violent deaths including executions and suicide. Scenes depicting blood and gore are depicted throughout. Examples include:

  • Some scenes feature battles with gunship-styled helicopters and groups of soldiers firing automatic weapons. Groups of unarmed mutant humans attack the soldiers and are killed.
  • A guard punches a youth in the stomach without provocation.
  • A woman makes reference to harvesting (killing) a group of youths, saying that she didn’t want them to feel any pain.
  • A youth shoots a soldier with a gun that fires an electrical charge; we see the soldier convulsing and small bolts of lightning flashing over his body.
  • One scene depicts a partially mummified body of a man sitting in a chair with a plastic bag over the dead man’s head.
  • In one scene dozens of soldiers attack a civilian compound, firing automatic weapons at the civilians.  A soldier threatens the civilians with “Every last one of you will die”. Eventually, the compound explodes inflames with the roof collapsing on top of both soldiers and civilians. 
  • A man is bound to a chair with his hands ties behind his back and repeatedly punched in the face until his face is swollen, bruised and bloody. A man points a gun at his head, threatening to kill him.
  • A girl talks about going into her sick mother’s room to find the floor covered in blood.  Her mother had gouged out her own eyes to stop herself seeing disturbing visions.
  • In one scene two attack helicopters fire missiles into a rebel compound, destroying much of the compound and killing dozens of people. People attempting to flee are shot in the back and chest. One soldier throws a grenade into a group of people, causing an electrical charge to engulf the group with bolts of lightning. An unarmed female doctor, who had surrendered is shot in the stomach by a soldier with a pool of blood forming on the woman’s clothing before she collapses to the ground. A group of youth threaten to kill themselves by exploding a bomb rather than surrender to the soldiers. Later we see images of dozens of dead bodies lying on the ground covered with blankets   


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.

This film would be terrifying for this age group. In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are a number of disturbing scenes and characters, including:

  • The mutants make animal-like screeching sounds. They have pale skin covered in blue veins, blood covered mouths and faces and black teeth. In one scene disturbing tendril-like appendages emerge out of one mutant’s mouth. In one scene a mutant picks up a rat and bites off its head.
  • One scene depicts large glass containers containing embryonic alien-like monsters.
  • The soldiers dress in battle gear with full-face helmets that have a menacing and somewhat insect-like appearance about them.
  • In one perilous scene during a walk across a desert landscape, a group of youths are engulfed in a storm with multiple bolts of lightning arcing from the sky to the ground. One of the youths is struck by a bolt of lightning, rendering him unconscious; later the youth recovers and appears uninjured.

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.

Children in this age group will also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

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.

In addition to the above mentioned violent and disturbing scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • One menacing scene depicts a covered body on a table wired to a life support machine being wheeled into a room and we hear a youth say “Once they go through that door they never come out”.  
  • A youth who is attacked by mutants is shown with bloody scratch marks across his stomach. Later we see the same youth vomiting up copious amounts of blood. His stomach wounds appear badly infected, the skin necrotic and what appears to be a large worm moving inside the wound. Later he asks his friends for a handgun, inferring that he wants to shoot himself.  We do not see the youth shoot himself but hear the sound of a gunshot as his friends walk away.  
  • One scene contains a room full of unconscious youths suspended upright from the ceiling with multiple tubes and wires attached to various parts of their body. We see a tube leading from their bodies with clear liquid dripping into a glass jar as if the body is being milked.

Thirteen and overinfo

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 many of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

One scene depicts a group dancing. A teenage girl wraps her arms around the neck of the boy she is dancing with and kisses him passionately on the mouth.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A teenage boy is injected with what is called “a cocktail of vitamins”.
  • A doctor injects a teenage girl with a cure for a virus.
  • A man coaxes an older teenage boy and girl to drink liquid from a flask in order to enter a dance club.  After drinking the liquid the couple begin to act in an intoxicated manner and have hallucinations of monsters before passing out.

Coarse language

The film contains some coarse language. Examples include:

  • “Get your arse back...”; “dumb arse”; “lucky bastard”; “hell”; “shit”; “son of a bitch”

In a nutshell

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second instalment in the Maze Runner series of science fiction action films based on James Dashner's best-selling young adult novels The end of the film is a real cliff-hanger, aimed at leaving the audience hungry for the third film in the series. Once again, the film deserves its M rating, with even more intense violence, blood and gore, and scary images and characters than its predecessor.  The film is likely to be very disturbing for children. It is unsuitable for children under 13 and is not recommended for anyone under 15.

The main messages from this movie include:

  • Friendship and freedom are worth fighting and dying for.
  • Sacrificing the lives of a few to save the lives of many is not acceptable.

Parents may also wish to discuss:

  • Cooperation and trust:  throughout the film a group of young people must work together and trust each other in order to survive.
  • Self-sacrifice: several of the film leading characters put their own lives on the line in order to protect their friends.