James Patterson’s young adult novel series, Maximum Ride, takes flight cimematically this week from Paramount Pictures. I read the first book when it came out in 2005. It was fun, engaging. Patterson is a very entertaining and imaginative writer, and Max seemed perfectly suited for exploration in other media.
The downside to this big screen adaptation is that the direction is a little uninspired, the visual effects aren’t strong enough to compete with other action films (it’s poster seems to want to position itself in the X-men class of films), there are no big name actors (and some of the performers aren’t as strong as they should be) and the budget seems constrained. It feels like it walks the line between a television pilot, and wanting to be a big-screen adventure. And nothing against the film, I think a pilot would have been better, because with these characters, and the fact that there are nine books in total, this would make for a solid television series.
Max (Allie Marie Evans) is the leader of a group of genetically modified children who are on the run from the government agency that created them, while they explore their origins.
There are fumbles aplenty in direction and storytelling, but the potential for something really enjoyable is there. I would tell Paramount to reposition the property for a television series, treating the books as source material, they would have 9 seasons worth of story to tell, and it would allow the characters and the world Patterson created to be explored.
Patterson created a solid story, and engaging characters, but trying to contain the first novel in a film that clocks in at 88 minutes (including end credits) doesn’t do it proper service.
Most of the young cast in the film are likeable, but none of them are given enough to do, and yet, we know from the books that they are all three dimensional characters. The film, sadly, feels like a missed opportunity, as if the film were trying to position itself as a new superhero franchise, but didn’t invest in the strongest script, and direction to properly set it up.
That being said, younger viewers may enjoy it, and it may guide them to the source material, which they will love. Patterson’s writing is a lot of fun, and his creation of Max and her friends is truly enjoyable.
Maximum Ride is available today on DVD from Paramount.