Maximum Ride 2016
I moved relatively recently and with a different address, that comes with a different library and so I did what I typically do when I find a new source of movies: I do a search for “superhero” to see what comes up. And this is one of the movies that came up during that search. Doing a quick judgement call based on the cover and description and it sounded like a young adult novel adaptation trying to be the next X-Men. And it more or less was, although there was more of a focus on the experiment nature of the “Flock”, who I will be referring to as “Angels” because they’re basically just angels with retractable wings, plus some other powers that are barely fleshed out. And while I would call this even less of a superhero movie than the Darkest Minds, it was turned into a manga and even a Marvel comic book series well before being released as a movie. So there’s that. Of course, none of this actually made for a good movie. A superhero movie? Barely. A good movie? No.
One of the most frustrating things about this film is how ill defined everything is. There’s a set up with a break out of some mysterious medical facility and a strange, young girl. The credits have plenty of wing and feather graphics and some dossiers with vague mentions of super powers, but despite all this wing and angel imagery staring the audience in the face, it feels like they are trying to make the actual reveal of the wings into a surprise with the wings actually coming out the first time about 20 minutes into the less than 90 minute film. Not only that, but the actual graphics behind the wings are incredibly cheap, looking much more like the owl from the opening credits of Labyrinth and less like the wings of the X-Men Angel from the Last Stand. There’s also vague mentions of other powers and the aptly named youngest character Angel also seemingly has psychic powers, but nothing is ever really very explicit besides a few moments of unwieldy exposition.
Since this is also a teen, young adult movie there has to be a touch of a love triangle and since this is also a low budget movie there is plenty of mediocre acting. All of the teens have little to no personality and the guy playing the “Eraser” Ari, aka poor excuse for a werewolf is the worst. He growls all his lines as he bares his werewolf fangs though he never actually has any visible transformation. Even the fight scenes are extremely poorly choreographed, they generally just involve some weak kicks, punches, or they grab each other and one throws the other to the ground. The love triangle is just as weak as the Eraser villain has this odd fascination with the main character Max and we see plenty of scenes where Ari talks to Max while she is in a cage both when they were kids and in the present where they are both teens. Ari has a constant disdain for her, but he also has a morbid and unhealthy fascination with her, something that could have actually been explored in a more interesting way and possibly is within the series of novels. But instead, the film just tosses it aside as basically nothing. There’s also a touch of interest between Max and one of the other male, teenage angels, but he barely has any screen time or personality for anything to really develop.
On top of everything else, there’s also the touch of a mystery as to where these angels came from, who made them, and this medical facility referred to as “The School”. And immediately when shots of the School show the head scientist from the back where they refuse to show his face, it’s clear that he was also the same savior figure who rescued the angels from the facility in the first place. This is an adaptation of the first of a series of books so there’s plenty of questions that are raised without being answered. The problem is that there’s not nearly enough world building. There are plenty of characters, but too few of them get any characterization. The other erasers are basically faceless villains with zero lines of dialogue. There’s no clear motivations for anyone within the School and there’s no real motivations for anyone within the Flock outside of one of the characters wanting to go shopping because of course she does.
There’s not really many redeeming factors for this film. The dialogue is awkward and delivered poorly. The graphics are cheap looking, the fight scenes are bland and unconvincing. Even the mystery is obvious and uninteresting. And since it was the first of a potential series, the ending was unsatisfying. It wasn’t horrible, there was some definite effort put into the film, but there wasn’t anything tangible and it all came out pretty dull. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.