“Max Steel” stars Ben Winchell, Josh Brener, Ana Villafane, and Andy Garcia. Released on October 14, 2016, the film is about a teenager who forms an unlikely alliance with an alien in order to uncover the secrets of his origin.
The film is directed by Stewart Hendler, who also directed Whisper and Sorority Row. He is also known for directing the web series, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. It is based on a series of toys by Mattel and the 2013 reboot series of the same name. Clearly, none of you readers realized that this was coming out. The project was filmed a couple of years ago for its 2014 release, but was moved to 2016. Also, the marketing campaign didn’t start until a couple of months before its official release. Usually, Hollywood puts out trailers for films a few months before their release to raise awareness, but a couple of months? Geez. The first time I became interested in the film was its official trailer that I watched on Youtube. It didn’t really do anything that much to sell the film for me, but I wound up seeing it anyway because it’s unfair to judge a film based on a trailer. Was it worth the wait? Let's unleash our power and find out.
The film plays out like any other superhero origin film, except it has a smaller budget...and it’s not made by Marvel or DC. It’s a very simple story about finding one’s own identity and being a new kid in town, along with some science fiction elements thrown in it. I think people who wanted something different or fresh added in to its formulaic storyline will be disappointed with this one. If you don’t mind how the story plays out and just want to see an entertaining superhero film, then there’s a small chance that you might enjoy this. Ben Winchell plays Max, the main character of the film who just moved into a new home with his mother, played by Maria Bello. When he discovers that he has energetic powers flowing through his body, he sets out to solve the mystery of those powers that involves his late father and an alien being known as Steel (voiced by Josh Brener). In case you don’t know who Ben Winchell is, he is known for his role in the Disney Channel show, A.N.T. Farm, and the 2011 television film, Teen Spirit. From my personal point of view, I thought he did all right as the title character. There were times where his acting felt a bit weak, but overall, he was passable. The other actors in the film were OK, although I do wonder why they got Andy Garcia for the film. Josh Brener as Steel was one of the redeeming qualities of the film, in my opinion. I personally thought that he did a nice job of bringing this character to life. Sure, it’s not the best vocal performance I’ve seen, or heard in this case, but he did deliver some pretty good humor compared to the humor from the other films that are based on toys and/or cartoons (Mostly Transformers). I also think that the visuals weren’t as bad as people thought they were. They’re not as crazy or over-the-top as the high-budgeted superhero films, but they’re not as eye-catching as it should’ve been. The narrative structure felt like it was originally made for television, but then the filmmakers decided to release it in theaters instead. For films like this, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. “Max Steel” is a suitable example of the latter. The film didn’t really offer a lot of development for the characters and its themes, especially the friendship between Max and Steel, and that’s one of the main problems that I had with this film. That, and its choppy editing during some sequences.
Overall, “Max Steel” tries to separate itself from the high-budgeted superhero films in terms of action and visuals, but fails to capitalize on its strategy. Despite a couple of redeeming qualities, the film suffered from its lack of development, a formulaic “superhero origin” plot, its narrative structure, and some choppy editing. It’s a film made for those who are familiar with the reboot series, but it didn’t do that much to impress some newcomers as well. It would’ve worked better as a television film or a live-action fan film to coincide with the source material, but as a theatrical release? Not so much. If you’re still curious about seeing it, I would say rent it from Redbox. If you liked the film more than I do, then that’s fine. I’m not going to judge.