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Maximum Ride (2016)

Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 12/6/2016

All Ratings out of

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Video:

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Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/2/2017

James Patterson is one of the best-selling authors in the world. His solo works and those on which he "collaborates" with other writers dominate the book charts, and they span a wide-number of genres, from murder-mysteries to young-adult. And while his books constitute a large number of books sold, Patterson has not had a great deal of success on-screen. Some of his "Alex Cross" books were adapted into movies (two of which woefully miscast Morgan Freeman as the title character) and Zoo has survived for more than one season on CBS. Perhaps Hollywood has trouble keeping up with Patterson's insane output. However, it's no surprise that the very popular Maximum Ride series would be purchased for adaptation. So why did the movie just suddenly appear out of nowhere?

As Maximum Ride opens, we see Jeb (Peter O'Brien) help a group of children escape from a lab. The story then jumps ahead a few years, where we see the kids -- Max (Allie Marie Evans), Fang (Patrick Johnson), Iggy (Zayne Emory), Nudge (Tetona Jackson), Gazzy (Gavin Lewis), and Angel (Lyliana Wray) -- are living by themselves, as Jeb has disappeared. The kids try to decide amongst themselves what they should do next, when Angel is kidnapped by Erasers, a group of mutated males, who are lead by Ari (Luke Gregory Crosby), Jeb's son. This is where we learn that Max has wings and the other kids have powers as well. Max and Fang pursue Angel and her captors, which begins an adventure which will lead everyone to fact their past.

To recap, the Maximum Ride series is comprised of nine books and has sold millions of copies. The books, which are aimed at young adults, actually grew out of two of Patterson's novels for adults When the Wind Blows and The Lake House. (I actually read When the Wind Blows back when I had time to read and when I first heard about the Maximum Ride series, I thought "Wait a minute...") Therefore, we can safely assume that there is a wide age-range of readers who would be interested in seeing a movie based on Max and the other characters. Therefore, we can't help but why the film was unceremoniously dumped on-line.

Well, there are two main reasons, both of which add up to the fact that this simply isn't a good movie. First of all, this is obviously a low-budget affair. Patterson is listed as an executive producer, so you think that he could have kicked in some money. But no, we are left with a movie which feels cheaper with each passing scene. "The School", the lab where the kids were created, is comprised of exterior shots of a factory, while the interiors look like an office which has just been abandoned. The visual effects are shoddy, as the wings looks like something from PlayStation2. Certain scenes cut away from the action, as if it wasn't shot or wasn't good enough to stay in the film. (Which means that it must have been pretty bad.)

Of course, the budget problems are only the tip of the iceberg. Overall, the movie contains the hallmark of a not very good movie. The running-time is 88-minutes (with the opening credits being replayed again at the end), but I can't but wonder if this is one of those movies which was whittled down as the editors tried to save it. If this is the case, the editors made some odd choices, as the pacing here is atrocious. Even with the relatively short length, some of the scene just go on and on. But, I can't help but feel that a lot has been cut out. Even if you go with the theory that the movie was aimed at fans of the novels, the story here is very vague, to the point that the film feels like a sequel. The acting is very hesitant (to put it nicely) and the choreography of the fight scenes is laughable.

Those who stumble across Maximum Ride, not knowing that it's based on a series of best-selling series of books, would never imagine that the movie has any sort of pedigree, as it feels like a cheap, direct-to-video also-ran. I can only assume that those involved in the movie have disowned it, not only because it just showed up one day, but also because there are no extras here. There's no doubt that there could be a compelling story here -- Teens who can fly? That certainly has potential -- but the movie doesn't take it anywhere and to say that it only scratches the surface is an understatement. Adding insult to injury, the movie ends with a note that clearly points to a sequel -- one which we will presumably never see. This Maximum Ride is going nowhere.

Maximum Ride needs to take these broken wings and learn to fly again on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, but the film has a very monochromatic look and some scenes some across as a bit dark. The level of detail is OK, although the picture gets somewhat soft at times. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get some subtle surround and stereo effects here, most notably during the action scenes. There some mild subwoofer effects as well. For an adventure/action movie, I has expected better sound.

The Maximum Ride DVD contains no extra features.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long