“Maximum Ride” tramples childhoods

In the world of book-to-movie adaptations, there are only two possible ways that these movies can be made. They can either be mostly true to the source material, with only a few alterations or missing things, or they can absolutely butcher the source material.

Unfortunately, the film “Maximum Ride,” directed by Jay Martin, belongs in the latter group. Attempting to bring the beloved teen book series by James Patterson to life, Martin abjectly failed.

This book series was one of my favorite things to read during my teenage years, and so when I saw it on Netflix, I had to watch it. That was one of the worst decisions regarding movies I have ever made, and I voluntarily went to Ryan Reynold’s “Green Lantern,” so that should say something.

The failure of this movie should be no surprise, since the production company behind this film is Studio 71, which largely broadcasts on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat. In addition, YouTube personality Jenna Marbles was an executive producer on this project, which set the bar a little low. I’m sure Marbles has a good show, but maybe making films isn’t in her wheelhouse.

The basic premise of this film is that the titular Maximum Ride and her five friends are all genetic experiments, possessing wings and capable of flight, as well as a bevy of super powers. Over the course of the film, they “take flight around the country to discover their origins,” according to the film’s IMDb page.

After firing the movie up on Netflix, it wasted no time at all crushing my childhood dreams of what I thought this movie was going to look like, although some of the blame must lie with me for expecting better out of a glorified YouTube movie.

In the opening minutes of the movie, there is a montage of government files with the character names and powers on them, which are meant to serve as exposition. But the only thing that I really took away from these files were that the oldest characters, Ride and Fang, were only 14. Which makes the hypersexualization of these characters and their relationship even creepier to watch.

Ride, played by Allie Marie Evans, of “Vanity” and “Love, Fashion and Elfs” fame, is the de facto leader of the group. The rest of the group is rounded out by Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy and Angel, played by Patrick Johnson, Zayne Emory, Tetona Jackson, Gavin Lewis and Lyliana Wray respectively.

These actors are relatively unknown, each having acted formerly in a handful of minor roles. Jackson previously was in “Mean Girls 2,” and Emory is currently starring in a minor role on the television show “24: Legacy.” So it would seem that this is a breakout role for most of this cast.

On the surface, this terrible excuse for a movie is the byproduct of young and inexperienced actors trying their hardest. But I have seen something similar to this before, during the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The end result of a terrible film is not necessarily the fault of the actors, but rather that the script is terrible. That, or the director is too nitpicky, resulting in these abominations of film.

However, some small part of the blame does still lie on the inexperienced actors. I realize that the roles they are playing are teenagers, but man, did they oversell the angst, and snarkiness of some of their lines. It was actually a little painful to watch some of the scenes. The fact that these angsty moments reminded me of my own teenage years is irrelevant.

But more cringe-worthy than the script or the acting was the CGI. In this modern day and age, where the magic of computers can resurrect a dead actor — I am looking at you “Rogue One”— I would have thought they could give these actors semi-realistic looking wings. Instead, it looks like someone with rudimentary Photoshop skills added some wings, with the end result looking like a pair of falcon wings glued to their backs.

One positive note in all of this muck was that for an amateur film, the movie is shot very nicely, aside from a minor case of shaky camera work. It actually looks like they used professional cameras, as well as having operators who were decently trained.

The wide, sweeping landscape shots are beautiful, even when they share screentime with the digital abominations that are the main characters.

One last thing about this film, which is really bugging me: Some of the actors portraying these characters are clearly older than what the movie says they are, which might in some cases serve to make the sexualization of these characters somewhat alright.

But if you pay attention, Ride and Fang are both described as being 14, which makes their relationship, interactions and clothing choices a little less romantic. Instead, it just makes their every appearance and interaction a little more creepy.

In the end, this film is the cinematic equivalent of Old Yeller: There are just so many problems with it that it should be taken out back and shot. I only recommend this movie to those who want their childhoods trampled on by this miserable excuse for a film.