‘Maximum Ride’ – more mediocre than maximum

As a largely analytical person, guilty pleasure films make me feel especially guilty. I get conflicted when I’m watching a movie, recognizing all the reasons I should not be enjoying it, but then loving it in spite of myself. This is the predicament I faced while watching “Maximum Ride,” directed by Jay Martin (based on the novel “Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment” by James Patterson, which I’m not particularly fond of).

“Maximum Ride” follows a motley crew of six extraordinary children who have the ability to sprout wings and go for a joy ride in the sky. Living isolated and unsupervised, the kids are hiding from the scientists who want to find them and drag them back to the laboratory they grew up in for experimentation. That is, until the menacing lupine-like Erazers capture Angel, the youngest of the children, and the rest of the crew heads to the lab to rescue her.

To say the special effects are shoddy would be an understatement. The fight scenes are wholly unconvincing. The acting, at times, is cringe-worthy. On top of all that, there are tired tropes coming out of the wazoo. I, for one, have certainly seen enough of the “I want to be a normal teenager” take in film.

And yet, I became much more engrossed in this film than I intended. Maybe it’s because I pushed play expecting to hate it, but I also think that it’s partially because some of the characters are likable, despite their ridiculous names. Max, the ringleader, is stubborn and sassy with a good heart, which is exactly how I like my female characters. Iggy doesn’t let his blindness stop him from saving the day, and Gazzy is interesting with his affinity for bomb-making.

I couldn’t help but root for them as they used their unique skill sets to escape every scrape and Big Bad Villain they encountered. I’ll admit, though, I wish we were given a bit more from some of the other children, namely Nudge and Angel, because there was nothing to make me care all that much about them.

Another thing I enjoyed about “Maximum Ride” is that, while there are hints of romance, it is nothing overpowering, which can be rare in teen movies. This movie focuses more on camaraderie and loyalty.

When I reached the end of the film, I found myself hoping for a sequel because I wanted to know what happened next to this group. I would, by no means, classify this as a good movie, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t keep my interest throughout. Sometimes, I guess, it only takes some mediocre form of entertainment to escape from reality, and that’s what “Maximum Ride” accomplished for me.