I never really planned on watching “Max Steel,” which yes, is based on the toy line. However, my wife wanted to see it, and I always try to take her up on a chance to see a movie together, so what the heck. The reason she wanted to go, however, was more than just something to see- a former employee actually has a small role in the film, and so that’s why she wanted to go. Knowing that, albeit in retrospect, was enough to make the whole movie tolerable, even though it’s not that great. If you’ve seen one sci-fi action film about a young “chosen one” trying to live up to the responsibilities of a grand universe, you’ve seen them all. Not much in Stewart Hendler’s film will surprise you beyond that.
The film is straight-up origin story/franchise starter about a high schooler named Max (Ben Winchell) who is the son of a famous scientist who died during what seems like a freak tornado accident (but, of course, turns out to be more than that) when Max was very young. His mother (Maria Bello) moves him away from where the tragedy occurred, but with him now in high school, moves him back, under the guidance of Dr. Miles Edwards (Andy Garcia), an associate of his father’s who just seems shady from the outset. (Spoiler Alert- He is.) From his first day back, Max has some pent up electrical energy that puts himself and others at risk, but it’s through the intervention of an alien being named Steel (voiced by Josh Brener) that Max begins to understand what has happened to him, and see a bit more of the truth of why his father died.
As mentioned, there’s very little in Hendler’s film that will surprise even the most casual moviegoer. There are a couple of minor twists and turns near the end that might catch one off guard, but nothing that makes this anything more than a serviceable, and predictable, franchise starting point. The performances are adequate, but not strong, the writing is formulaic, and the direction and visual punch of the film is rather weak. Don’t expect much of this film, and you’ll find it mildly entertaining. I wouldn’t really look for much more than that, though.