No, I’m not reviewing a porno. Max Steel was a line of action figures released in the late 90s by Mattel. They were apparently popular enough to warrant not one, but two different television series’ over the last two decades. And here we are now, a live action movie that nobody asked for. Has anyone even played with a Max Steel figure since the 90s ended? Or is this film being made as a way to reinvigorate a franchise? I can tell you one thing for sure, its sole purpose is to sell as many toys as possible by following in the footsteps of predecessors like the Transformers franchise. Say what you want about Michael Bay’s Transformers monstrosities, but the Max Steel feature film comparatively makes them look like award-winning masterpieces.
Max Steel stars Ben Winchell as Max McGrath, just your average teenager who one day discovers that he has superpowers. When a friendly alien creature named Steel (Josh Brener) appears in Max’s life out of nowhere, he foretells of a dangerous alien race known as the “Ultralinks” that are after the both of them. Only together do they stand a chance of saving the world from this newfound threat.
There is absolutely nothing right about this movie. Take a moment and think about the worst superhero clichés you could possibly imagine. A rushed origin story? A deceased family member who holds all the answers about the protagonist’s past? A forced romance that really has no place being in the film anyway? Not only is all of that and more what the feature solely has to offer, but they somehow manage to boil every single cliché down to the point of being absolutely atrocious. Max and Sofia’s (Ana Villafañe) on-screen romance has to be one of the worst I’ve ever witnessed, not even fit to be in a Nickelodeon TV movie. It makes no sense as to why she would stick by a reclusive man who almost drives his bike into her truck three times, and outright ignores her throughout most of the movie anyway. But sure, who wouldn’t lend their truck and cell phone to a man who keeps running away without telling her a thing as to why she should even trust him? This film treats teenage romance like its full of idiots (and not so much the love-struck idiots, more like how are you even breathing stupid).
The CGI is uninspired, the dialogue is just plain awful (with equally terrible actors to back it up), and the costumes choices for the Max Steel armor look like something out of a Tron knock off. The character of Steel, who is supposed to be one half to Max’s abilities and the comic relief, is one of the most irritatingly unfunny things to happen in a superhero movie ever. Worst of all is the “surprise” villain you can see coming from a mile away, who really has no reason to be a villain in the first place. We’re given no time to understand why he decided to stand by the “ultra links,” so he just comes off as cartoonish. But not in the “he’s so bad as a villain, it’s hilarious” kind of way, not at all. He’s just thrown in for the sake of having a bad guy, a completely terrible villain that raises no stakes or would make even the most undemanding of children care.
At least now we can all settle the debate for worst superhero film of the year. Marvel fanboys would have you believe it to be Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad, while DC backers would be quick to call out X-Men: Apocalypse‘s shortcomings. But let the fanboy wars end momentarily, for we all can acknowledge just how absolutely embarrassing the Max Steel feature film is for all involved. Manufactured out of the worst superhero clichés you could ever imagine, Max manages to “steel” the spotlight in the worst of the worst. Don’t take your kids to see it, don’t go see it for a quick shot of nostalgia. It’s not worth the money seeing it in theaters, and it’s not worth the hour and a half you’ll waste watching it sometime later on Netflix. I couldn’t find a single thing to enjoy here. I actually think I would recommend watching Norm of the North over this, which was what I initially believed to be the worst movie of the year. It’s so rancid, uninspired and unimaginative with its source material, that I can’t even bring myself to give it points for trying.