Ok, I want to make it clear from the outset that I do realise that being a man in his mid thirties I am not necessarily the target audience for a movie like Maximum Ride, but a number of years ago I did read the first 3 books in the James Patterson books on which this movie is based and they hold a place in my heart. I had always thought that bringing it to the screen could really work. Unfortunately, like a lot of movies based on James Patterson novels, it didn't.
The very concept is cinematic in scope. Telling the story of six young people who have been genetically altered in various ways, but most notably they all have wings, and the ability to fly. I books are adrenaline packed tales with the twists and turns good expect from a JP thriller. So why doesn't it work in this movie?
I think the main issue we have here is one of pacing verses character development and exposition , and how you achieve these things differently in the different mediums. In book form you have the luxury of developing characters and exposition over time, and plot can be used to achieve this. Whether you are writing in first or third person, you have the luxury of being able to effectively mind read. The reader knows what motivates a character because you literally read it on the page, and you can explain things read easier too. Doing these things is trickier on screen. You need to take some time and explore who the people are and build the world around them. Sadly this movie didn't do this. So when the action movie in you were still trying to get your head around the concept, especially as is only in this moment when you come to know that your protagonists have wings! (This was a moment I was thinking was going to be awe inspiring, but sadly was highly underwhelming.)
Of course you don't want to be explaining everything to your viewers, by but you do want to be explaining enough that they can are effectively on the same page as you, whereas the movie felt like you were always one step behind the production team.
I feel essentially the team behind this film assumed that everybody watching the movie would be someone who's read the whole series of nine books, and their knows everything they need to know, and knows it inside out. That is a big mistake to make in any adaptation. The whole purpose of a movie adaptation of a book is, yes of course, please the already existing fans, but it's also to bring along New ones two. If the Harry Potter films assumed that you understood the rules of the wizarding world before you watched the films, they wouldn't be as beloved as they are.
I still hold to the belief that the Maximum Ride books could be turned into something really special on screen, but they need to be given to the right pair of hands, ones that understand the story and how to successfully bring these characters to life in order to set them on their adventure.
One day I hope that happens.