Max Steel

2016-11-18 08:56

What it's about:

16 year old Max McGrath has just moved to a new town and is desperately trying to fit in, when he discovers his body can generate the universe’s most powerful energy. Unknown to Max, a slightly rebellious and hilarious techno-organic extraterrestrial named Steel has been keeping an eye on Max, wanting a piece of Max’s superhuman energy. When they finally meet, they discover that together they form “Max Steel,” a superhero possessing a powerful strength beyond anything known in our world. These two unlikely friends soon find themselves hunted by sinister forces who want to control Max's powers, as well as an unstoppable enemy from another galaxy.

What we thought:

Toy-company Mattel usually focuses on the TV realm to push their toys to the hungry kid consumer market, but with Max Steel an attempt was made to breakout into a big-screen franchise. Personally I’ve never heard of Max Steel growing up, but it already has had two TV shows and straight-to-TV animated films, so I guess the American audience has some familiarity with it. Though the lead is a teenager and has very teenage-like issues and goals, Max Steel is not young adult fiction, but rather a Ben-10 tween animation series come to life.

Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) and his mother (Maria Bello) move back home many years after a terrible accident took the life of his father. He tries to accept living in his father’s shadow, until his body starts going nuclear with weird blue energy. An alien called Steel (Josh Brener), who once knew his father, finds him and together they uncover the secrets of his life and death.

Think of Max Steel as Mattel’s version of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, and that the only reason this film came to light is to push toy sales by establishing a movie franchise. Surprisingly, the movie wasn’t as terrible as you’d expect it to be, finding its charm in the quite loveable robot alien Steel. Winchell is more a copy-and-paste angsty teen with good hair, but he’s endearing enough that you don’t want to punch him. Andy Garcia, who plays an old friend of the family, was more the odd one out, who clearly did not want to be there and was just cashing another paycheck.

Like most tween movies, the plot is simple enough with an expected surprise villain (the movie keeps the list of characters small) and no teenager is complete without a love interest, which has no real input to the movie as a whole. No one above the age of 14 will really find interest in Max Steel unless they really dug either the eye-gouging 2000 computer-animated series or the Disney XD preppy version from 2013. The writers did manage to upgrade the character to current times at least and avoided the more cringier go-to material for these kinds of movies, but it’s not exactly wholly original. 

Max Steel did really poor in the US, so I doubt we’ll be seeing it on the big-screen again (though Mattel is brewing a Monster High movie). It ticks all the boxes of a decent-enough origin film but couldn’t really decide on the right kind of audience that could have made it a bit more turbo-charged at the box office. If you’re stuck with babysitting your kid-sister/brother, then Max Steel can while away the time until your parents get back from their date night.

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