01 The Write Elements: Maximum Ride (2016) the movie - what could have been -slash- book series review

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Maximum Ride (2016) the movie - what could have been -slash- book series review


I, like many others, am an avid fan of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. It was one of the books I insisted on buying the Young Adult series so many years ago; and I'm still hunting down the rest of the manga volumes for keepsakes.

But first, let's give the books context:

The Flock is made up of the 6 main characters - Maximum "Max" Ride, Fang, Iggy, Gazzy, Nudge and Angel - are human-avian hybrids (so they have wings) and have escaped a lab called The School where they were being caged - yep - and tested on. It's where they got their "gifts", they weren't born with these wings and other powers, which are still developing. But of course there have to be enemies and besides the scientists, these people employed Erasers, who are also human hybrids but with wolf DNA - so they come with fangs, claws, werewolf-shapeshifting, the works. 

So some of the reasons I love the whole Max Ride universe was: 
a) I love anything to do with wings - I don't think they've coined a philia (obsessive love for something) for that yet - so I'm instantly drawn to this book

b) THE CHARACTERS are FANTASTIC!  They have depth in the main 6 - SIX! - and it's so hard to control so many people but James does it phenomenally. Even the adversary, for a while, and 'leader'/head of the Erasers, Ari. My favourites are Fang and Iggy. Though yes I do support Max, who obviously has to be the strong-willed, caring, over-protective, capable female lead (it's usually the case for any YA female leads isn't it; not that I'm complaining); it's the guys. 
Come on. 
Fang is mysterious, with then long black hair, strong and silent and brilliant, sarcastic, cynical and even humourous. Iggy's the same, though his looks are the polar opposite, being - if I'm not mistaken (and see how I'm pulling this all from memory here!) - white-haired and fair-skinned, and blind - extra depth to his character. So think of them as the black and white knight pieces in chess.

c) the idea is really interesting and easy to get behind. I remember the writing being simple to follow and understand, but still action-packed. Heck, they made it into a manga didn't they. Of course I admit I had stopped after the main ones were published - there were more after the first five(?); but I do plan to revisit the characters again

So. When I knew they were planning to make a movie years ago needless to say I was excited. I anticipated it so much but for so long there wasn't any talk of it, so I thought it wasn't going to happen.
Then... I found it. Totally out of the blue, the movie cropped up in a search I was doing for .. I don't know what anymore because I abandoned everything to find the movie.
I watched it, before the trailer - though now I watched both.

I'm James' fan so you don't know how much I don't want to slam this...

But, well... I pretty much had my brows furrowed a lot of the time.
I'm a book lover. I'm THIS book's lover. ('nough said.) AND, hey, I'm a media student, so I've become critical over shots - if a scene was boring-ish I would appraise the shots and be all in awe most of the time. But I know to disassociate myself just in case the book and movie didn't quite match up.

Sad to say, it didn't come close. My entire being was in turmoil. "You have to be kidding me" as Max says it in the movie. 

The Movie? Or... what can kinda be called a movie? was slow, borderline elderly-with-a-walker pace, which made it worse, considering there wasn't a real PLOT. The shots weren't anything to rave about and couldn't distract me from the dialogue - if it wasn't from Max or Iggy it wasn't anything worth listening to. How was this written and approved?! 

The shots were simple the moment I saw the card-swipe and cage open. The entire time they seemed so amateurish, it's like something someone who isn't a filmmaker would have come up with for a 3-minute corporate video. They were moving and moving. Did the crew not have a tripod? 

The trailer was all the more numbing. You know how you get that rush from seeing an awesome kick-butt trailer because you know the edits were done so well you got into it? I could Not get into this one. The first book was about rescuing Angel and so the movie focused on that... WAY too much. 

The overall plot, even slight pulling in from the other books in the series, wasn't done right. I waited for the characters to be developed further because that's such a key component, but they weren't. Even worse, was how the crew portrayed them.

Okay, so the actress for Max did quite alright, fulfilling the role she had to be, but it really lacked a lot of energy. I thought they were all zombies. Their faces are supposed to show their emotion, especially with close-up shots. 

Though I love her outfit choices (cause I would like to wear it that way) she's not supposed to. She's the "Mom", so more conservative dressing would be nice. Where's her jacket? And I'm pretty sure she wasn't the threatening-type, "taking down" Nudge? Um, hello? 

Fang. OH. MY. GEEZ. Let's see... No black hair. No LONG hair. No lankiness(!!!). No long sleeved shirts (how many times can the older ones expose their arms in this thing). No brooding(!!!!!). No Fang-smirk(!!!!!!!!). Where's the fridge scene? Where's the cool, collected figure that's meant to be a inspiring shadow-protector in the corner? 

Iggy... I don't want to lump them together but, IT'S THE SAME THING as Fang. He was WAY too buff (good for the actor - don't get me wrong I do find him hot - but not for this role. I'm trying not to be too down on the actors. They weren't bad bad). No calm, quiet smile. No semi-cynical behaviour. No desperation (not even when the chaos ensued near the end). 

The push on Nudge's childishness was taken too far. Yes she wants to find out her past, but she's supposed to be bubbly and talkative.

Gazzy is meant to be funny. Too into his explosives, yes, but at least he's meant to have a sense of humour.

Angel was, well obviously, gone for most of the time. But she's meant to be irritatingly (yeah I don't like her so much) cute... and innocent. Even in the poster the actor wore a hoody. I thought it was Nudge or Max for a second. 

NO FEAR. These kids are meant to be afraid of the Erasers, of being found. As Gazzy put it in the movie, the Erasers could find them at any moment and rip down the walls with their bare hands. Now that frightens me, wouldn't it you? 

Forget Jeb. I'm coming for Ari. Another gross mistake. He's meant to be *AHEM* Max's younger brother yet he looks about as old as her in the flashbacks. Not only that, what did they turn him into?! When he turns into an Eraser he looks like Sabretooth from the old X-men animated series. 
Long raggly hair, fangs, claws, buff and hissing (HISSING). Now Sabre instilled fear...Ari? He was laughable. 

 I was underwhelmed. The manga portrays them way better.
Then came fight scenes. Or lack thereof. Now I don't usually reveal things in my reviews but these had to be pointed out.

This was especially when they were going to reveal Iggy for the first time, I was SOOOOOOOO disappointed you have no idea. For reasons above.

Ari's sudden appearance when he found where they lived. I thought I was deaf when I didn't hear any music. Suspense, not there. Fight, really not there. Ari is meant to be strong but there was no show of manhandling Iggy or Nudge. And Iggy went down just like that? At least Nudge hit the wall. So Gazzy had to hide to fumble around with his gadget and Ari's only line was "where are you"
I swear I recall 'little pig little pig' used somewhere in the stories. If not, it should have been!

Fang desperately trying to get Max to talk to him. Though I get it but the way he spoke was not his character at all! "You say somethin'?" as she gave him the cold shoulder.   

The almost-kiss in the cabin. When he stopped her with his hand on her mouth I thought if you're gonna stop her kissing you that's dumb but sure; however if you wanna keep her quiet, Fang's voice might as well be him popping balloons - was that meant to be a whisper? It failed.  

The rest of the gang trying to find Max and Fang. Iggy, with his excellent hearing as said in the initial part of the movie - was impervious to Max's loud footsteps. Didn't announce their presence. Max has been with them so long, they don't really change their clothes, but she couldn't recognise him (sure, to be fair, they weren't meant to have left the house) And Max's grab wasn't done properly, she didn't even shove him hard enough against the wall to cause him to choke (though he coughed like it was). 

Then there was the fight with Ari and the whole Flock near the end before they were brought back to The School. They both called in reinforcements which was so great cause it looked like they were going to rumble. Then Ari takes moments to pull out earplugs and switches on the supersonic hearing disorienting device with the most pathetic dialogue ever. "I can't hear you"?! The Flock let him take out a device and there was no cut to them in a panic - even running toward Ari would be fine!

They spent LONG stupid moments on the ground after that, writhing in agony I understand but it felt like the editor just wanted to lengthen the deadpan scene. It took forever for anyone to kidnap them.

When they were trapped back in the cage, though the screaming dialogue is meant to show panic, it didn't covey very well. They did their best to look worried but the music didn't change, they initially didn't shout if they're all okay - it was mainly Max, like she has to carry the team in acting too. Iggy, of all people, being blind should have been the one to worry the most. They were angry, not angry enough and panicked; but all just not enough.

Their wings. This is a movie about AVIANS. It should be so full of them taking flight and landing till I'm sick of it. They tried to do more close-ups of the wings (minus the shot where it's actually slowly edging out of Max's back) but it just looked cheap, like they wanted validation for the animation work done. 

The hype I built around seeing them fly and spread their wings for the first time was sorely drained into nothing. I don't even think the wings were the right colour for a lot of the scenes! As they showed Max's, though it was meant to be cool, the CG done when the shot showed her body didn't gel. It looked like the wing was detached even though it's supposedly coming from beneath her skin, which was shown in detail. Also, honestly, there should have been shadows and looked larger. They don't fan right.
 The book made me wish for wings.

And lastly the almost-lovey dovey scene with Max and Fang. Oh man... The worst thing was how unromantic and un...livening it was. I'm supposed to be thrilled over their sudden need for a connection but it was awkward. Not how awkward it was supposed to be for the two of them trying something new, but ... just bad.  The actor couldn't even stroke her face right.

Read the books. Read the manga. Don't watch this after you read it.

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