Maximum Ride is a sci-fi/fantasy, young-adult, novel series and judging by the first movie adaptation, it should stay that way.
Leading up to seeing this movie things weren’t looking good. The Maximum Ride series is close to my heart and so I was shocked to see that somehow it had come together under my radar. For the sake of this review I will try to pretend that I haven’t been patiently waiting for a Maximum Ride film since I was 11, the movie could not have been more disappointing.
Maximum Ride didn’t make me mad, it was just boring and disappointing. Before the movie my one remaining glimmer of hope was that maybe it would reach cult-film status bad like Birdemic. No such luck.
I wanted the movie to be over no more than two minutes into it. To start, the CGI is unforgivable. Sure it’s expensive, but if the core concept of your film is that the main characters all have giant bird wings, you should probably either save up, figure out a way to artistically shoot around it or make a different movie.
One of the first things that seemed wrong with the movie was the opening credits scene. It was long and the music seemed to loop. Unlike in other more intelligently put together films, the scene playing in the background during the credit roll did nothing for the movie. It looked like the DVD menu of a movie bought from a Walmart bargain bin and left on all night in 2009.
This leads me to the first of many stylistic issues I had with the movie. In the novels, the flock (main characters/mutant bird kids) have big (up to 14ft.) wing-spans like angels. They are constantly struggling to hide these massive limbs tucked behind their backs. They have to adjust clothing, wear baggy shirts, sweaters and jackets, and they even have to alter backpacks. I can’t even begin to comprehend why the moviemakers decided that it would be better if the wings were impossibly hidden in their backs, and jut out through big gory slits.
Far and away the worst aspect of Maximum Ride is that, for some unexplainable reason, the filmmakers decided to throw in overly drawn out, weird dream-like prelude sequences often lasting a full minute. Not only do these scenes look horrific, but they accomplish little for the plot, and derail the pacing. Interestingly, these prelude sequences are more or less the only portions of the film with scoring. The rest of it is basically silent – accentuating the excruciating performances.
The acting on the parts of main characters Max, Fang and Ari was nearing horrific. Max’s characterization is dripping with the failure of constructing a strong tween female role model and instead ends up being weak and submissive. If we briefly move back to the books, Max was in charge of every situation; in this movie she is constantly being saved. To make matters worse, she is always saved by a male who happens to also be the love interest.
The final bitter complaint I will end with is that the group of six homeless, mutant kids are all outfitted in what appears to be Forever XXI’s brand new “3Edgy5Me” collection. They all match in style, except Max who later in the film dons a Rancid tee-shirt which I won’t comment on because it’s even more poignant if I leave you to fill in the blanks.
I give Maximum Ride a 5/100: utterly unwatchable.