Maximum Ride (Netflix Movie Review): X-men Done Wrong
Allie Marie Evans, Patrick Johnson, Lyliana Wray, Luke Gregory Crosby, Gavin Lewis, Tetona Jackson, Zayne Emory, Peter O’Brien
Six children escape from a lab called “the School,” with the help of their caretaker. They flee to the mountains, where they live in isolation for two years until one of them is abducted by half-wolfen guards called Erasers. They are all mutants. The children are avian, while the Erasers are lupine. When the avian attempt to rescue the abducted, they must return to the School and face the scientists that transformed them, but the Erasers stand in their way.
I rarely watch movies on Netflix. I prefer the long, episodic entertainment of binge-watching TV shows. However, I’m unapologetically a comic book geek. So when I saw Maximum Ride pop onto my queue, I was intrigued. I’m a huge fanboy at heart, thinking positively about most things, but my expectations weren’t great. It looked like a rip on the X-men. Escapees from a genetic lab (not so much), but the school, a professor caretaker, winged mutants? H-mmm. Yeah, not much hope of anything resembling originality.
I know that it is far easier to trash something than it is to create something, so the idea of shitting on somebody else’s hard work is reprehensible to me. It requires just a little snark and a whole lot of mean, but even my innocent doe-eyed optimism has to take a backseat to the truth. This… is… bad.
James Patterson must have been reading some X-men comics when he wrote this debacle. He must have thought that he could do it better than long-time X-men scribe, Chris Claremont. The gifted mutants are tortured (both literally and figuratively), misunderstood. Their creators bred them to be weapons and forgot to tell their creations that they had no choice in the matter. They are property, not souls.
The mutants are led by Max, an angst-ridden, emo/goth chick with pale blonde hair who has a mothering instinct toward her fellow escapees, and a bad attitude for her mentor and caretaker, Jeb. Fang seems to have a crush on Max. Nudge is a typical teen with an apparent shopping addiction. Gazz likes to play with explosives. Iggy is blind. Angel has psychic powers. That is the extent of the characterization the viewer is given and I’ve made inferences. These are the vapid characters we’re supposed to care about. Their acting is torpid and bovine in its execution.
How about story? The gifted escape. They are hunted. One is taken hostage. Two go after the abducted while the younger three stay, but they are attacked by the lead Eraser, Ari, who hates Max, but Max didn’t stay. Why is Ari searching for Max in the house when he knows Max left? He knows this because Max has a tracking chip implanted in her shoulder. There’s not a lot to this story that makes sense, and it sets up a sequel that hopefully will never get made. Add to the porous storyline, horrid special effects, pointless flashbacks, slow-motion fight scenes and you are left with a great big brown emoji that reeks.
To me, one of the most important visuals in a movie about avian mutants should be the wings, dammit. If they could have gotten that effect right, there would have been the potential for awe-inspiring visuals. Instead of using practical effects, they used CGI. Isn’t CGI supposed to be better? If you can’t do majestic wings, you shouldn’t do THIS movie. Yeah, even though I had low expectations, I was disappointed. I can’t even recommend this movie as camp.