Maximum Ride (2016) Movie Review | Leaves Much To Be Desired, Many Unanswered Questions and Lacks Plot Development

From the very title of the movie, the many problems with Maximum Ride begin. Maximum Ride is about genetically engineered children fleeing from scientists who have been using them for experiments their entire lives. However, the title implies that it’s a movie about car racing, and to be honest for the first few minutes I was waiting for the racing scenes to begin. No such luck. In fact, I held off watching the movie because I thought it was about car racing like Fast and the Furious and I wasn’t in the mood for a racing movie.

Thing is, despite the title, it turned out to be just the kind of movie that I would normally love. It is truly a science fiction movie, complete with mad scientists, genetically engineered humans, and people with superpowers. However, the culmination of Maximum Ride left much to be desired. While I could not really call it a bad movie, not in light of recent movies in the past decade which are terrible, the problem with Maximum Ride is that it is not a good movie either.

Maximum ride is a very clean, family-friendly movie, a refreshing addition to scifi fans without the typical Hollywood evil agendas and depravity of most every movie and show coming out of Hollywood today. However, what it lacked resulted in a feeling of nothingness and lack of emotional connection so that when the movie ended, it just felt like, “oh, well the movie is over”.


It failed to capture any real emotional connection to the audience, but it is difficult to discern whether it was the acting of the children who were the sole protagonists in the movie, or if it was just bad writing. However, there is not really any question as to whether the writing was poor. It really felt like amateur hour, there was inadequate plot development, jagged scene transitions, and lacked any real substance.

It is not that the premise of the movie did not have any potential, because honestly Maximum Ride had a lot of potential. It seems that the movie’s failure was due to amateur script writing. There was not adequate connection between events, and plot development was very poor. It felt like we jumped into the middle of the movie from the beginning, and the unknowns did not give the air of mystery that it should have. Perhaps it is because they did not give the audience enough of a taste of just what was going on to get interested in the first place.

The awesome scene where they are flying over amazing landscapes was probably the best part of the movie. The rest of the movie however was lacking. Movies like Blade Runner had long scenes where nothing was happening but there was cool music in the background, and it really made those movies more epic. However, somehow when Maximum Ride did the same thing, it just made the movie feel somewhat boring. And while running scenes are often cool in movies, when Maximum Ride did it, it just felt like the running scene through the hallways, part of which looked like a recycled scene, would just never end. It made me think, “seriously? She’s still running? End this scene already.”


There were a couple cool scenes, but what was the deal with telepathy? What was the significance of the kid who could make bombs? Why did Jeb leave his own son there when escaping with the kids? The woman doctor who was not part of any of this seriously didn’t think it amazing, shocking, or extremely significant that the girl literally had wings inside her body? And seriously, she couldn’t connect that to the scars? And how did Jeb’s son get the werewolf-like powers? Who exactly are the Erasers? If the Erasers had that sonic device, why didn’t they use that from the beginning? These are among the many questions that were left unanswered in Maximum Ride.

There were far too many unknowns that could not be extrapolated and that made no sense or lacked development. Maximum Ride really failed to do adequate character development to develop an emotional attachment to the characters, even when doing a little bit of character development in the middle of the movie. It’s also possible that the total lack of any real adult protagonists may have contributed to this, besides the mysterious Jeb who only made an appearance for a few seconds in the beginning of the movie. Sure, I can understand there was supposed to be an air of mystery, but the movie failed to develop any interest in the mystery, and lack of connection to the characters resulted in minimal enjoyment.


It really felt like lazy writing, from the extended hallway running scene which felt like they were just trying to fill up some space in the movie to the lack of transition between various scenes. And ending the movie with a few random scenes with no real enlightenment to what exactly happened to the girl for her to see those flashes, and the completely unconnected flash of the file with “Maximum Ride” written on it just felt like the writers couldn’t figure out why they called it “Maximum Ride” so they just slapped it on the cover of a file without any explanation. I just thought – the main character’s name is Max, so is Maximum Ride her name? It doesn’t sound like a name. It just makes no sense.

That said, Maximum Ride was not a terrible movie by any means. There was no cursing, minimal gore, no scenes of depravity, and the only real morally questionable element was the premise of the movie – bioengineered inter-species humans. However, the only place that it can be found that they were mixed with “avian DNA” is on the IMDB page – which I’m not sure how exactly the editors over at IMDB extrapolated that because the movie does not once explain this as a possibility. Sure, they have wings, but it is a bit reductive to say that they have bird DNA when the movie never said that.


I just googled to see if there was a book, to see if maybe this is where the IMDB editors got this information, and yes, it turns out that Maximum Ride is indeed a book. This does really explain a lot. It seems that the writers of the movie script were depending upon knowledge they already had from reading the book. Honestly I think that it would have served them better to have not read the book first, because there seem to be critical dependencies on the book that are absent from the movie itself.

If this is the case, it would really explain why the movie seemed so disconnected and lacked plot and character development. Perhaps the book got a movie deal, and then they chose the wrong script writers and directors. It seems that perhaps if you have already read the book, the movie might be a lot better. However, if you haven’t read the book as I had not, the movie will probably leave you mildly interested and wishing for more. If the goal of the movie was just to get people to read the book, then I would say they did that brilliantly at least. Now I want to read the book, because the movie left so much to be desired. That said, Maximum Ride is worth watching, if you have nothing else to do.

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