The acting is not so good and there is a high degree of inconsistency and flip flopping in the characters and story. Real people and situations are not that inconsistent and so all these characters seem really fake. Also hard to relate to is how almost all these characters have not an ounce of sympathy. Ira drops dead with no response at all from anyone as if it had not even happened, off they march to "win fame and glory" in a contest without a comment on the death. Then we hear about how there is only one team to compete with not 11; all the rest are dead ha ha ha they laugh about how it will be easier to win now. These are some of the most (unbelievably) unsympathetic characters I have seen depicted. Its not one group lacking compassion for another, something real humans do often enough. Its everyone lacking compassion for everyone most of the time. It kept me from ever developing a care as to what happened to them. In fact I just was hoping most of them would be killed off soon so I did not have to experience their foul presence anymore.
This movie interests me in just one regard which is the frightening prospect that real people in the real world could actually relate to these jerks without despising them. I did not think it was made consistently clear that the audience is expected to despise them. If that was intended I did not get the message. So I wonder did the marketing research figure there are real people out there who might draw inspiration from some of these psychopaths? That prospect scares me more than any scene in this lousy movie did.
Lord of the Flies (1963) shows human being kids forming clans and acting like human kids would without adult authority controlling them anymore. It is believable and almost completely unlike this movie in that regard and others.
Flip flops and inconsistencies. Just a few examples:
1) Help, threat, help, threat: Threats, scheming against each other, not a care what happens to anyone else, then next scene rushing to help one another, then threats again constantly back and forth. For me this flip flopping was NOT done in such a way that it conveyed something meaningful and was not macho kidding around. The threats and scheming were depicted very seriously such that efforts to help each other then seemed a sudden flip flop and unnatural. I think the movie 'Into the White' did this threathelp thing well as a progression. SOL did not.
2) Teams win, individuals win: One moment it is all about the teams competing to win as a team, and the next moment it is all about how only one person wins and joins Hyperion. For instance Adrian (himself) won last year before being disqualified, no mention of a team. Makes no sense and so harder to have any understanding of their motivations.
3) Trying to survive, trying to win: They decide to pool telescope parts so they can "Go home" then a moment later it is back to trying to use it to win, then no, wait, surviving and going home is what its about, no wait, winning again. Real people do not have such random shifts of major motivations and (if it was supposed to) this aspect did not work at all as some sort of complexity of situationcharacters. It just seemed unnatural and not believable.
4) Tyl the Insecure, Tyl the leader: Tyl flip flops between forceful and spewing leadership jargon from inspirational posters to then doubt himself almost completely. Often you can't guess whether he will be Jeckyl or Hyde in the very next line of dialog. You can say cerebrally, that a person can have conflicting states like this, but as depicted it did not come across to me as any sort of believable character complexity.
5) Exclusive three name is not exclusive: Its made clear that having a "three name" is an academy status thing. KIT laughs at a guy like he is lowlife scum for lacking something so important. Then it turns out to be derived from one's three initials. So everyone has one, academy member or not. Nothing special and so no real kid would care about it so much. How to grasp a world in which the commonplace is something special?
Review by Jaseenit from the Internet Movie Database.