Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler
|Featuring:||Ben Winchell … Max McGrath
Josh Brener … Steel (voice)
Maria Bello … Molly McGrath
Andy Garcia … Dr. Miles Edwards
Ana Villafañe … Sofia Martinez
Mike Doyle … Jim McGrath
Phillip DeVona … Harkins
Billy Slaughter … Murphy
Al Mitchell … Dr. Smith
Lawrence Kao … Dr. Lee
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|Director:||Stewart Hendler—“Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” (2012), “H+” (2011-2013)|
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|Distributor:||Open Road Films|
Like most moviegoers, I have very little faith in films based on toys. However, I do have faith in Ben Winchell, one of the most talented (and might I add, handsome?) teen actors in Disney. I’m glad Winchell caused me to check out this film, because the film itself turned out to be surprisingly good. It’s not Marvel quality or anything, but it holds up well in its own right.
One of the goals of this film was clearly to be a family-oriented superhero movie, and as such, it succeeds. Fans of die-hard superheros who save cities will be disappointed if that’s what they go in expecting, but that’s just not what “Max Steel” is all about. It’s about a young man Max MacGrath, who begins to discover he has superhuman powers as he tries to uncover the hidden legacy of his father. When he learns to use his powers, a robot with a hilarious personality, named Steel, is sent to protect him. When Steel morphs into a suit, the two can work together as Max Steel.
The base of the science fiction in this film is energy, and the special effects and CGI are dazzlingly realistic. The plot and premise aren’t extraordinary, but the film does deliver some surprises and several funny moments. Yes, there are also moments of cheesy superhero clichés, but overall, I found this film well-shot, well-acted, and warmhearted.
Morally, I only have a few cautions. There are five to ten OMGs, a few uses of d**n and h**l, and one time Max starts to say the F-word, but Steel stops him. There is also some teenage dating (they kiss once), and a few shirtless men (never in sexual context).
There is plenty of peril in this film, but only a few scenes of fighting. There is some shooting, but no one gets hurt. Most of the violence should be fine for kids 12 and up, and even many 10-year-olds could probably watch it with their parents.
It’s always difficult to write a review when I’m well aware that most critics disagree with me. Maybe Ben Winchell’s acting saved the day, but I enjoyed this film immensely (and I have reviewed a wide variety of Hollywood films). It’s not the most memorable superhero film, but I believe it deserves our attention. At the very least, it doesn’t deserve to be panned. I encourage all moviegoers to read multiple reviews before making a decision, and most reviews of this film will say it’s poor. My personal advice, however, is not to miss “Max Steel.”
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Mild to moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.