'Maximum Ride': Film Review

Maximum Ride Trailer Still_ - H 2016
Courtesy of Studio71

Maximum Ride Trailer Still_ - H 2016

You've seen it before, and done a lot better.

Teenage mutants battle malevolent forces in this screen adaptation of the James Patterson YA books.

Screen adaptations of young-adult novels get a bad name with Jay Martin's woeful film based on the best-selling series (there have been nine books so far) by the dangerously prolific James Patterson. Clearly shot on a shoestring budget and featuring abysmal contributions both in front of and behind the camera, Maximum Ride is an instantly forgettable affair that will attract viewers only because of their fondness for the source material.

The central characters are a sort of junior league X-Men, six genetically modified young orphans who, thanks to their avian DNA, have the ability to fly. The winged members of "The Flock," as they're known, include the colorfully named Angel (Lyliana Wray), Nudge (Tetona Jackson), Fang (Patrick Johnson), Gazzy (Gavin Lewis), Iggy (Zayne Emory) and the title character, Maximum "Max" Ride (Allie Marie Evans), who serves as their unofficial leader.

The group's members were raised in captivity in a fortress-like laboratory dubbed "The School" located in Death Valley. They were eventually rescued by scientist Jeb (Peter O'Brien), a father figure who ensconced them in a secluded house in the woods for their own safety. Restless in their claustrophobic environment — teens will be teens, after all — they're lured out of their refuge when Angel is kidnapped by werewolf-like creatures known as the "Erasers," for reasons that no one with an acne-free face is likely to care about.

Derivative to such a degree that it seems almost a parody of its genre that has lost significant box-office steam, Maximum Ride is so ineptly executed that it might as well feature its own Mystery Science Theater 3000 soundtrack. Other than Evans, who displays some charisma (and as much skin as possible with a PG-13 rating) as the sharp-tongued teen protagonist, the performers are wooden and unexpressive. But their failed efforts are stellar compared to the special effects, with the numerous flying sequences making those in the original Superman TV series seem cutting edge by comparison. The target audience for this film (and its intended sequels that will never happen) may be young, but they're old enough to know better than to tolerate this level of cinematic ineptitude. 

Production: JP Entertainment, Studio 71
Distributor: Paramount
Cast: Allie Marie Evans, Patrick Johnson, Peter O'Brien, Lyliana Wray, Luke Gregory Cosby, Gavin Lewis, Tetona Jackson, Zayne Emory
Director: Jay Martin
Screenwriters: Angelique Hanus, Jesse Spears
Producers: Gary Binkow, Amee Dolleman
Executive producers: James Patterson, Jenna Marbles, Andrew Reyes, Carrie Morrow, Leopoldo Gout, Bill Robinson
Director of photography: Ed Wu
Production designer: Anthony Stabley
Editor: Joel Griffen
Costume designer: Angela Solouki
Composers: Bowie Dinkel, Kelvin Pimont
Casting: Chelsea Ellis Bloch
Rated PG-13, 88 minutes