In the pantheon of young adult book-to-film adaptations, not every entry is going to be "The Hunger Games," and "Maximum Ride" falls into that category. Based on the James Patterson series of novels and directed by Jay Martin from a screenplay by Angelique Hanus and Jesse Spears, this is "Hunger Games" on a budget, with shades of the Netflix series "Stranger Things" and the recent sci-fi film "Morgan" running throughout.
The story concerns a group of winged avian-human hybrid teens who have been kidnapped from "The School," a secret laboratory facility where they grew up, and abandoned in a remote wooded house by a father figure, Jeb (Peter O'Brien), for their safety. They long to escape, and soon enough they have to flee when evil monster-like "erasers" come calling, making off with one of their own, luring them back to The School.
Allie Marie Evans stars as the rebellious and impulsive Max, fond of edgy athleisure wear, delivering every line with a sneer. The rest of her bird teen gang are one-dimensional supporting players.
Thematically, the film treads the same waters as other, better projects: supernatural kids who latch on to their creators as parental figures, shady scientific experiments on innocents, etc. But the obvious exposition, tortured dialogue and shoddy special effects just make you wish you were watching something else.
MPAA rating: PG-13, for some violence.
Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes
Playing: AMC 30, Orange